More than $2.9 million in federal financing has been approved to support the water and sewer line extension project in the town of Cobleskill.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office recently announced $2,924,000 in loans will be directed toward the $9.2 million project. The funding adds to state, county, local and private support for extending services along Route 7 from the eastern edge of the village of Cobleskill east nearly to Howe Caverns.
Funding approval is good news for the project, but Cobleskill town Supervisor Thomas Murray said there are several steps yet to be completed before groundbreaking. These include securing sufficient funding for the work to actually start — proceeds from the USDA loan won’t be available until the project is actually finished.
One of the first major parts of the work will be building a massive water tank on a hill on Howe Caverns’ property, and Murray said the goal is to get that part done before July. The work is expected to affect business at the county’s biggest tourist attraction, and Murray said he’s meeting with local bankers, hoping to secure a loan to pay for the initial steps.
New York state has committed $4.1 million to the project, but that money will be delivered on a “milestone” basis, meaning significant portions of the work have to be completed before the state will lay out any cash.
“Right now, we need about $4 million,” Murray said.
He said he’s heard quotes from two of the town’s five official banks, and he’s hopeful one may offer a rate that would be most beneficial to the community.
“I’m hoping they can help us move this project until all our funding comes in at the completion. Cash flow during the project is what we lack,” Murray said.
The need for money up front may require bonding, a time-consuming process.
Another potential holdup is the fact that the town has yet to secure easements from several property owners whose parcels are being eyed for the underground lines. Discussions continue and some property owners are hiring lawyers, Murray said. “It is holding the project up,” he said.
There isn’t money in the project budget to start paying for easements, Murray said.
Despite the difficulties, he said he’s optimistic the project will continue and lead to major improvements and economic development along Route 7. Some property owners are already applying for “curb cut” permits typically sought by those planning a driveway or new business entrance off the state highway.
“We don’t even know what they’re for yet,” Murray said. “The possibilities on that gorgeous corridor are endless.”