The Village Board discussed bringing back a Business Façade Improvement policy and possibly new sidewalks on Church Street at their meeting Monday, April 7.
The Microenterprise Façade Improvement Program originally started out as a grant based program where local businesses on Main Street could apply for money in order to do façade improvements on their business. Businesses were allowed up to $5,000 in grant money to use on their building.
In 2010 the Village Board changed the policy to $2,000 that would be one-third grant and two-thirds loan. Village Clerk Rick Roberts saw a significant slowdown in the program, “there was no activity for about four years.”
Today, there is $8,000 left in the improvement fund. Roberts asked the board to consider bringing back the policy and making changes to utilize funds and how they are dispersed. Instead of the funds being labeled as a part loan, Roberts suggested changing the policy back into a grant program.
Also, dispersing the remaining funds into $2,000 per businesses, instead of giving the full $8,000 to one business.
“It’s a small consideration,” Roberts said, “but it puts money back into Main Street…we are encouraging growth and development in the downtown area.”
The program has had success in the past. About eight to 10 businesses have used this grant to put up new awnings, paint their buildings or put in new windows. Now, with the rumor of new businesses coming to Main Street, it would be a small incentive to business owners to help fix up their buildings. “There might be a demand for this program in a few years,” Roberts said.
The money would be on a “first come, first serve” basis. “We will give $2,000 per business till it’s gone,” Roberts said.
Mayor Brian LaRose agreed with Roberts, “This is a good way to help support local businesses.”
Discussion of new sidewalks on Church Street brings out two different options.
Highway Superintendent Dan Williams discussed the addition of 325 feet of sidewalk to be added to Church Street. The goal is to have continuous sidewalks all the way to Price Chopper.
“Church Street has become the hub of walking traffic,” Williams said, “and there are no sidewalks over there. There have been complaints this winter because there was nowhere to walk.”
In order to have a continuous sidewalk, there would be four crosswalks that would be installed as well. “The hardest part is by Morrison Street, there are two houses that are close to the road. It’s too narrow, with the NYSEG poles, to install sidewalk,” Williams said. The easiest way, and the best place for a sidewalk would be on the west side of Church Street.
Board member Paul Labas suggested placing the sidewalk next to the rail trail in order to stay away from the traffic on Church Street. “My worry is that there is a lot of traffic on that road,” Labas said, “there are a lot of industrial trucks and people pulling in and out of the hardware store parking lot.”
Williams is worried that if the sidewalk were to be next to the Rail Trail, there will be no place to push the snow once winter hits again. There was a discussion that the snow could just be pushed into the trail for the snowmobilers.
The discussion was tabled until the board could investigate the two options and make a decision on which would be the better solution. “I think it’s a good thing we now have two options,” Mayor LaRose said, “we can discuss the costs to each and see which would be the better solution.”
The next village meeting will be Monday, May 5 at 7 p.m.