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Schenectady seeks public input for community programming

Schenectady seeks public input for community programming

Dozens of projects subject to approval
Schenectady seeks public input for community programming
The Mont Pleasant Library under construction in December.

SCHENECTADY — Want a say in how your federal tax dollars will be used for community programming in local neighborhoods?

The city has released a preliminary list of local projects flagged for proposed funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

City Director of Development Kristin Diotte told the City Council last Monday she anticipates $2.78 million will be available this year, most of it through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

Block grants not only fund anti-poverty initiatives in low-income neighborhoods, but also help to augment municipal programming, including paving projects, efforts to combat blight and bolster code enforcement. 

“It tends to leverage the resources of the community,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said.

The Trump administration has proposed deep cuts to the program during the past two budget cycles, contending state governments are better poised to fund those projects.

But McCarthy said Congress has shown a bipartisan willingness to stave off cuts.

“We’ve been held harmless by the advocacy of members of Congress,” he said. “This is money paid into the federal government that’s getting back into the local community.” 

WISH LIST

Altogether, city officials have flagged dozens of projects for proposed funding this year. 

Diotte outlined a list of proposed beneficiaries to lawmakers last Monday.

For housing-related projects, that list includes $125,000 to Better Neighborhoods to assist 10 income-eligible homebuyers and $288,650 to Habitat Townhomes to build two townhouses. 

The city Development Office recommended $109,294 be allocated to the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady for recreational programs at Quackenbush, Hillhurst and Steinmetz parks.

New this year is a proposed $17,000 line item for the Working Group on Girls, a non-profit designed to support young women in the city. 

Funds will be utilized to assist with mother-daughter circles at Schenectady City School District, as well as field trips and dinner activities. 

“It’s really an intervention mechanism to bring girls together and have that support system,” Diotte said.

The department also flagged $75,000 to fund a position at Mont Pleasant Library to assist patrons with navigating community resources. 

Funding can also be utilized by the city for public works projects.

As the city grapples with problems associated with creeping blight — including a lack of resources for cleaning and maintaining distressed properties — the preliminary wish list also includes a line item for $125,000 for the city’s code enforcement office to be used for “personnel and non-personnel costs for code enforcement activities in low and moderate income neighborhoods."

HEARING SET

A public hearing will be held Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers to discuss the proposed funding allocations.

The City Council will be required to vote on the final plan Tuesday, May 28.

The funding stream provided $2.8 million to the city for assorted development initiatives for the current fiscal year, including funds to tear down eight derelict buildings this spring.

The city also received $100,000 for the Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge, the initiative designed to empower residents to improve their neighborhoods through grassroots projects.

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