The Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa and the Mechanicville train station are scheduled for facelifts that will be organized by the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.
Chamber President Pete Bardunias announced Tuesday during a luncheon at the Fairways of Halfmoon that the two sites will be getting the same treatment as Clifton Park’s Historic Lock 19, which was abandoned for decades but cleaned up last year through a collaborative process that featured construction of a footbridge. That project teamed students from the Shenendehowa Central School District with General Electric, Curtis Lumber, design firm SMRT, Turner Construction, Momentive Performance Materials, the state Canal Corp. and chamber members.
“This was the start of the community development program,” Bardunias said of the Historic Lock 19 effort. “The new program is to take that success and bring it to additional, specific sites.”
The lock project was designed to be more than just a cleanup effort, he said, noting it showed what the chamber and its members were capable of.
The Brookside Museum, home of the Saratoga County Historical Society, will be cleaned up in hopes of attracting more attention.
“It needs additional upkeep, and there haven’t been funds for that,” Bardunias said, explaining that one of the chamber’s goals is to grab some of the traffic that passes by the museum on the way to the Saratoga County Fair.
In addition to restoration of the property, which will be done through volunteer work, the museum will also get a new collection that is a variation on the museum’s documentation of immigrants who came to the country decades ago.
“We’ve got a lot of people coming in to Saratoga County now,” Bardunias said, “so we want to get their stories and store them at the museum.”
This effort will include the involvement of students from the Ballston Spa Central School District.
In Mechanicville, the chamber is rallying volunteers to take advantage of a refurbishment grant announced earlier this year for the train station. The goal is to create an area close to the existing railyards that businesses would want to develop.
In 2014, the plan is to do community development projects in the towns of Waterford and Charlton. The chamber will meet with local officials and businesses to identify possible projects.
“We’re literally doing all these little dots ... and as years go down, we’re going to connect the dots,” Bardunias said.
The current projects are done completely with volunteers, donations from chamber members and the possibility of some county funding. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who spoke at the luncheon, said these are the types of projects that deserve an investment of public money because they are partnered with a private investment.
Tonko noted that his heritage caucus in Congress would focus on projects like these, since they revitalize historic sites.
“It’s a shame to see resources knocked down when they still have value,” he said.
The chamber is scheduled to soon give the county government’s Economic Development Committee a progress report on its 2013 projects.