Town Update

Town of Prattsville

Active Initiatives and Requested Funding Support

September 23, 2013

As we begin our third year since the devastation caused by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, we take this moment to look back at our accomplishments and at the same time look forward to embracing our future.  There have been many people working hard over these last two years to help us rebuild our Town.  All volunteers with one goal in mind – to rebuild our community better than ever!

To date we have received grants of just over $5,300,000 – more than any community our size.  This is thanks to the commitment, perseverance and dedication of a handful of volunteers and the support of our Town Board.  These are folks that have gone the extra mile to reach out to anyone who would listen and tell our story, and then find a way to leverage available resources for our Town.

While it has been a long two years, the hard work is starting to pay off.  Working with the many State and Federal agencies is a long and tiring ordeal with many challenges and bureaucratic hurdles to overcome.  We all know that the money has been slow in coming, and at times not in the priority we would like, but hopefully you will see that with the dedicated group of volunteers, we are slowly advancing our cause.  While we know this is a three to five year process, we are well positioned for the future and as other communities are just now finishing their long term plans, we can feel good about the fact that not only do we have a long term plan developed, we are starting to execute on the plan.  As we see others impacted by Hurricane Sandy struggling to get the much needed funding to rebuild their communities and complaining about the slow response from the State and Federal agencies, we can sympathize with their outcries and provide them with the hope that they too will persevere.

Below, please find a summary of these initiatives which will provide you with an update on grants received, the status of current projects and a summary of grants we currently applied for.  Please join us in celebrating our successes and our future endeavors.

The Prattsville Local Development Corporation

Kevin Piccoli, Chair;   Glen Bellomy;  Bonnie Chase;   Al Creazzo;    Jim Eisel;  Kristin Tompkins;  Greg Town

Juanita Gibson – Business & Community Development Coordinator

Margaret Irwin – River Street Planning

Kory O’Hara – Town Supervisor

 

2011 New York Street Main Street Initiative

Prior to the flood in 2010 Greene County Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning prepared a funding request on behalf of the Town of Prattsville for New York State Main Street Program totaling $215,000 to assist business owners interested in making façade improvements to their Route 23 Structures.  After the flood this grant was reevaluated and finding was announced in December 2011. The program is nearing completion.  To date approximately 10 projects have been awarded for the full amount of the grant.

 

2012 Community Development Block Grant Flood Recovery Program

In August of 2012 Governor Cuomo Announced that Prattsville would be awarded $1,180,000 in New York State Community Development Block Grant funding (NOT Community Recovery Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding).  This program is being administered by New York State Housing and Community Renewal (NYSHCR) Office of Community Renewal (OCR).  The funds were to be made available in two phases with an assessment of need for additional resources following completion of Phase One.  While the grant called for two phased-in awards of $590,000 each (on the basis that the Town was required by NYS to show a need for both phases in order to receive the maximum $1,180,000), the Town has been formally notified that the entire $1,180,000 is available.  The award is split into two components, $1,000,000 for awards to businesses and homeowners, and $180,000 for administration of the grant.  The award amount has been split into $500,000 for homeowner rehabilitation program to assist displaced eligible homeowners back into their homes and $500,000 for business rehabilitation program to assist business recover to pre-flood operational status.  The funds available for administration are set aside to cover the Town’s expenses associated with various program requirements over the life of the five year program – including the hiring of administrators (Catskill Mountain Housing and River Street Planning) the cost of wage rate verification, audit costs, inspections, signage, and other expenses required to be incurred by NYSHCR.

The Town selected the local nonprofit organization Catskill Mountain Housing to help administer the program.  At this time (September 2013) 4 applications totaling approximately $190,000 have been accepted and 15 more are in progress.  The second half of the initial funding award was allocated to a Business Recovery Program that would make assistance available to businesses in operation at the time of the flood who required assistance to reopen.  The Town selected the Prattsville Local Development Corporation to administer the program which sub-contracted part of the administration to River Street Planning.  To date six awards have been approved by NYSOCR totaling $288,000 and six more are in development.   For both programs the Town developed program guidelines, applications, bid documents and construction contracts that are consistent with the extensive CDBG program requirements.  These programs prioritize assistance to low and moderate income people, female-headed families, seniors and veterans.

 

2012 Long Term Community Recovery Manager Grant

In 2011 Prattsville sought $50,000 in founding from New York State Department of State Division of Coastal Resources Local Waterfront Revitalization Program under the program established to help communities impacted by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee to develop and implement recovery plans.  Prattsville was awarded $50,000 in the initial funding round and used it to hire River Street Planning & Development under contract to Greene County as their Recovery Manager.  The scope for that grant has been providing recovery support, technical assistance, support in developing CDB=G program materials and in grant application preparation.  In the second round of funding the Town supported a grant request for $50,000 from the Huntersfield Christian Training Center to cover construction management expenses they incurred in overseeing dozens of housing rehabilitation projects in Town following the storms. That funding was awarded in 2012.

 

2012 Projects/Funding Requests under Round Two of the Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application Process – July, 2012

•         NYS Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant Housing Rehabilitation Program – This grant sought funding from the New York State Office of Community Renewal requesting $400,000 in assistance through the annual open procurement for Community Development Block Grant program (Not the Disaster Relief Program).  Tasks included income survey development and analysis, preparation of twelve work write-ups estimating rehabilitation costs for eligible properties, development of all program narratives and budgets and program guidelines.  It was estimated that as many as ten to twelve income qualified residential property owners may be assisted through this program. This application was submitted in August of 2012 and formed the basis for the $1,180,000 in CDBG funds described above.

  • “Choose Prattsville” Homeowner Assistance Program - The grant sought $200,000 in funding from the NYS Office of Community Renewal (OCR) Rural Area Revitalization Program (RARP) to develop a homebuyer assistance program to assist low and moderate-income homebuyers to purchase a new manufactured or modular homes.  The program was structured to give priority to families being displaced from the FEMA trailers homes, former residents of the local manufactured home park, seniors and veterans and finally other low and moderate-income families.  The program was structured to provide a zero interest forgivable loan to assist with buying down the purchase price and assisting with closing costs and other expenses necessary to close the affordability gap.  The NYS OCR RARP grant was funded in total for $200,000 in December 2012. Catskill Mountain Housing was the applicant on behalf of the Town.  To date two awards have been made totaling approximately $80,000.  In both instances this funding was companioned with CDBG funds noted above because the cost for rehabilitation of flood damaged homes was so high.
  • Prattsville Parks Restoration and Enhancement Program  – The grant sought $500,000 from NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation Environmental Protection Fund (NYSOPRHP) to enhance the restoration efforts underway at Prattsville’s only two pubic park spaces: Conine Field and the Town Green.  At Conine Field, enhancements ($450,000) were proposed to build upon an awarded FEMA Public Assistance restoration program totaling $513,000 and construct a new soccer field, basketball court, pavilion and playground.  The Town Green the project was proposed to install utilities to enable future construction, build a playground and restore the historic “love gardens” and site landscaping ($50,000), matching a requested FEMA restoration budget totaling $250,000.  This grant was funded for $200,000. After consultation with the Prattsville Local Development Corporation, the NYSOPRHP offered Prattsville an additional $50,000 so that they could accomplish more of the improvements identified in the Long Term Community Recovery Plan (LTCRP). The total value of all elements of the Parks Restoration and Enhancement program is $1,124,000 ($250,000 from NYSOPRHP and $814,000 from FEMA). After evaluation of the reduced funding award from the amount initially requested the Town sought approval from NYSOPRHP to accomplish the following tasks: create a soccer field, basketball court and small playground at Conine Field, and construct a full playground, ½ court basketball area, repair the gazebo and landscaping on the Town Green. The Town is awaiting NYS OPRHP approval of the contract for this project and work will begin as soon as possible following contract execution.  At this point, we hope, weather permitting, to complete the playground on the Town Green before the start of winter so the children can begin to enjoy it as soon as possible.
  • Prattsville Restoration Initiative/Prattsville Main Street Revitalization Program – Streetscape Component – The grant sought $872,189 in funding from the New York State Department of State (NYS DOS) Division of Coastal Resources through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) of the New York State Environmental Protection (EPF) funds.  The project was matched with $870,000 in other commitments both in grants and local donated match.  The first component requested $50,000 to continue the Recovery Manager position for an additional twelve months.  The second component sought $822,189 for design of the entire “Bridge to Bridge” streetscape design and a Phase 1 construction project at the intersection of CR 10 and Route 23.  This streetscape program is part of a larger Prattsville Main Street Revitalization Program including the 2011 Main Street Façade Program, Arts Center and Residency Program (seeking NYSCA funds under this CFA Round) and the Town Common Development program (also seeking NYSOCR CDBG funds under this CFA round).  This project was awarded $200,000 from NYSDOS. After evaluation of the program components in light of the reduced funding award it was determined that adequate resources and pro bono commitments existed to continue the community recovery manager functions.  Review of the scope focused in on the design and construction of improvements at the intersection of NY Route 23 and Greene County Route 10.  The Town selected the Prattsville Development Corporation to help administer the grant award.  After a competitive procurement process, Synthesis LLP of Schenectady NY was selected to design the project and coordinate construction.  The program was contracted quickly and the design for the project is complete and pre-construction reviews are under way.  As part of the planning a well-attended community charrette was conducted to develop alternatives and select the preferred approach which includes street improvements (curbs, bump-outs, decorative paving and crosswalks) lighting, landscaping, public art at a key gateway to the Town.  This work is planned to commence immediately.
    • Mainly Greene – The Town assisted the Prattsville Arts Center and the Zadock Pratt Museum as part of the Mainly Greene Consortium.  A collaborative application from four Greene County Arts groups sought funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) under their new Arts Economic Development Program to create a linked initiative featuring arts activities across the County’s Main Streets.  The Prattsville component builds on recent success of the new Prattsville Arts Center and funds the artist in residency program to bring urban artists to work collaboratively on public art projects in the Town of Prattsville.  This enhances the ongoing effort to develop a permanent Art Center on Main Street.  Prattsville requested $25,000 toward the Artist Residency program.  The entire amount requested was awarded.
    • United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration Grant (USEDA) –This grant requested $120,000 of a $150,000 program to accomplish the following tasks identified in the LTCR Plan.
    • Feasibility Analysis/Pro-forma and materials preparation for Urgent Care Center – EDA request $15,000
    • Feasibility Analysis and Pro-forma Analysis and Schematics if appropriate for Community Center – EDA request $20,000.
    • Consultant Services: Town Marketing Plan and Heritage Tourism Plan – EDA request $40,000. Total Cost $50,000
    • Feasibility Analysis and Site Selection Analysis and preliminary environmental manufacturing/business park. EDA request $45,000. Total Cost $65,000.

This grant was not funded by USEDA. When asked for an evaluation the agency responded that it was a worthy proposal but very limited funds had been awarded for the Eastern Region under the Disaster Recovery Program.  The Town may resubmit this application, though it is hoped that these analyses can be completed under the NY Rising Community Recovery Program planning initiative currently underway.

 

NY Rising Community Recovery Program – May 2013

Through the Governor’s efforts in working with the Federal government, the Governor was able to secure Federal Supplemental Disaster Aid in an initial amount of $1.7 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program funds.  Under this program, New York State will allocate Federal planning grants approved by HUD to localities to develop comprehensive, innovative rebuilding plans that consider current damage, future threats and the community’s economic opportunities.  The amounts ultimately allocated to communities will be based on damage assessed by FEMA and the population and will be awarded for projects and activities approved by HUD once the community’s plan is complete and meets established criteria.  The Town of Prattsville was one of only 43 communities State wide that was awarded a specific grant award.  This award was set at $3,000,000 with the potential for additional funding.  Further, as we already have developed a long term plan, we are in a good position to request these funds faster than almost every other community in the State (albeit we will have to meet the many requirements of the program and will be reliant upon the glacial speed of the State government).

 

2013 Town of Prattsville/Prattsville Art Center Art Place America Funding Request

The Town of Prattsville and the Prattsville Art Center requested $250,000 in funding from ARTPlace America a prestigious national foundation representing a consortium of the major foundations supporting the Arts nationwide including the Rockefeller Foundation and Kresge Foundation.   Of 1,200 letters of interest received, the Town/Art Center was one of 104 asked to submit full applications and one of 40 funded nationwide. They are one of only four rural programs selected nationally for support.   The Art Center received $200,000 in initial funding for its creative placemaking program focused on flood recovery.     The Prattsville Art Center and Artists’ Residency is unique in its combination of contemporary art, rural culture, and disaster recovery.  The Art Center was established on the Town’s Main Street as one Prattsville’s Long Term Recovery Strategies following the Town’s devastating flooding by Hurricane Irene in 2011.  The Prattsville Art Center and Residency is designed as a model for expanding the role of the arts in revitalizing small communities across the country that are recovering from natural disasters.  It is also a model for establishing new creative relationships between contemporary artists from urban areas and remote rural populations, both of whom value independent thinking, and “do it yourself” problem solving.  The ArtPlace grant would place art and artists at the heart of the design and creation of a rebuilt Town as part of Prattsville’s LTCR Plan.  The Town will benefit directly from the energy and distinctive vision of working artists, as a part of the recovery and rebuilding process, which will implement new streetscaping, signage, parks, and a visionary mixed-use town commons.  Artists in Residence will divide their time between participating in town planning and design sessions, collaboration on public art projects, or teaching workshops, in addition to creating their own artwork in a rural hamlet surrounded by pristine forest landscape.  ARTPlace views this as a replicable model for communities across the country dealing with disaster recovery.

 

Prattsville 2012 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Flood Mitigation Grant Requests

Five flood hazard mitigation projects have been submitted to the State of New York Emergency Management Office (SEMO) under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program in 2012. They address the following and are all subject to additional evaluation and modeling:

  • Construct River Trail: The creation of a River Trail as part of the modified floodplain and reconfigured Huntersfield Creek alluvial area to protect the floodplain by restricting future development and installing vegetation and materials that will strengthen the floodplain while enhancing recreational resources and understanding of the importance of floodplain protection. Letter of intent estimated cost for this project at $680,000.
  • Remove Floodplain Encroachments:  There are numerous floodplain encroachments in and around the hamlet area.  Encroachments include expansions and modifications of the terrace that Main Street is located on, buildings and other structures, and upstream encroachments.  Strategic removal of floodplain encroachments would result in a reduction of flooding in parts of the hamlet area.  Letter of Intent estimated the cost of this project at $2.0 Million
  • Improve the Floodplain and Stream Channel:  There are opportunities to re-grade the floodplain in ways to reduce its elevation and modify select reaches of stream channel to convey more floodwater through the hamlet.  This could include realignment of the Huntersfield Creek channel, smoothening floodplain anomalies, and reduce certain depositional areas.  Letter of Intent identified cost of this project at $1.0 Million.
  • Redirect the Huntersfield Creek:  Three promising strategies to be analyzed through a similar modeling exercise is to (a) consider the Main Street bridge over the Huntersfield Creek, (b) provide guidelines for maintaining the stream channel above and through the bridge, and (c) to consider a new alignment for the Huntersfield Creek that provides a direct discharge into the Schoharie Creek rather than utilizing the separate channel that parallels the Schoharie through most of the village.  Letter of Intent estimated the cost of this project at $2.9 Million.
  • Replace the Route 23 Bridge:  This New York State owned and maintained bridge over the Schoharie Creek further constricts the stream channel and cuts off a portion of the floodplain especially on the east (Main Street) side of the creek.  This causes a bottleneck for stream flows and caused a rise in the flood elevation in parts of the hamlet upwards of 4 feet during the 2011 flood.  Removal of the bridge and replacement with a bridge designed to convey flood level flows would seem to have great potential for flood mitigation in Prattsville.  The cost estimate for this project needs to be determined.

 

2013 Projects/Funding Requests under Round Three of the Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application Process – August 2013

  • Prattsville Restoration Initiative Phase Two CFA Application and Priority Project Nomination. An application was submitted to New York State Department of State under the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program of the Environmental Protection Fund  totaling $807,000 in NYS DOS funds  and matched with other funding including funding requests for  three projects:
    • Completion of Step 2 of the streetscape construction project totaling $575,000 in NYS DOS funds and $580,000 in matching funds for project total of $1,155,000.  This phase would continue Streetscape improvements from the Intersection of Route 23 and County Route 10 to Pratt Rock.
    • Design and construction of the first phase of the riverfront trail between Devasago Park and the Town Green totaling $192,000 in NYSDOS finds and matched by $200,000 in matching grants, value of easements and other local support.
    • Funding to conduct a site selection study, feasibility analysis and preliminary design for the Prattsville Community Center totaling $40,000 in NYSDOS support, matched with a commitment of $40,000 in inkind professional services for a total of $80,000.

•         NYS REDC CFA Application and Priority Project nomination paper submission to NYS Office of Community Renewal Rural Area Revitalization Program application for the Prattsville Art Center requested $150,000 to complete rehabilitation of the existing severely flood damaged 1840 building on Main Street and construction of phase one of the new construction of the secondary contemporary building as part of the Art Center campus.  Total cost for the project is $503,000. The secondary building is designed to be a replicable model that shows how modular construction can be used in a model elevated and flood proof community structure.   The Hunter Foundation worked with the Town and the Art Center to sponsor this project.   This grant builds on the ARTPlace America Award to the Prattsville Art Center described above.

 

Other Initiatives

  • Discussion of Route 23 Bridge Replacement - The Town is beginning discussion with various organizations, primarily the New York State Department of Transportation regarding the feasibility of replacing the bridge over the Schoharie Creek on NYS Route 23 as part of an initiative to reduce the base flood elevation, reduce damage from flooding and increase resiliency.   NYS Senator Tkaczyk has been instrumental in lobbying Albany and the DOT on our behalf.
  • Replacement/Relocation of Prattsville Hose Company – The Town has supported the efforts of the Prattsville Hose Company to relocate the Town’s fire house.  In Hurricane Irene the firehouse flooded and the Prattsville Hose Company was not able to respond fully to community needs. The organization has secured an approximately $2,000,000 commitment through the FEMA Public Works Grant Program.  The Town is fully supportive of the efforts of the Prattsville Hose Company.
  • NYS DEP Flood Study - In September, 2011, the Town of Prattsville requested assistance from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) to analyze the FEMA Flood Insurance Study hydraulic model to both characterize the flood and to further assess the Schoharie Creek, its floodplain.  The goal of this evaluation was two-fold: identify potential flood mitigation measures and test the feasibility of emerging community visions for long term recovery.   NYCDEP, with the consulting engineering firm, Milone & MacBroom, Inc. (MMI), used U.S. Army Corps of Engineers HEC-RAS software to analyze the model and better understand what contributes to or exacerbates flooding in Prattsville.  By working together with the NYCDEP, Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District, FEMA, and the Greene County Economic Development, Tourism and Planning Department, Prattsville can use this information as it applies for hazard mitigation grants and directs future modeling to design and build these projects and further protect its residents.  The Town expects the final report to be released and presented to the public in October 2013.
  • Land Acquisition Initiative: Prattsville and NYCDEP – The Town and the Prattsville Development Corporation has been working with NYC DEP to evaluate potential properties either in the DEP land acquisition program or properties they may be interested in acquiring for public use and/or sites for replacement development for uses such as new residences, senior housing, the community center and an industrial park.
    • Pharmacy:  The Prattsville Local Development Corporation is currently working with a pharmacist to open a new pharmacy in Town.  The pharmacist has relocated back to Prattsville to be with his elderly parents.  With over 15 years of pharmacy experience in South Florida, he is more than qualified to open a successful business in Town.  The Prattsville Development Corporation is working with Greene County Tourism, Planning and Economic Development to secured funding for the launch of the business.
    • Local Gas Station and Quick Mart:  A local homeowner is seeking approval to build a gas station and quick mart in Town.  He has currently received preliminary approval from DEP and is awaiting final approval.  The hope is to begin development in the spring (the land is already acquired).