‘Sticking points’ could sideline sewer extension

KINDERHOOK – The Village Board is moving forward with a sidewalk link project between the Kinderhook and Valatie, but plans for a sewer line the board hoped to have buried under that sidewalk are still up in the air.

The board anticipated connecting residents and businesses in the B1 District, which includes Chatham, Board and Hudson streets as well as structures on Albany Avenue to the Valatie sewer system. But Mayor Carol Weaver now says there are some major “sticking points” in moving forward with the $700,000 project.

The village was award a $285,000 grant in December for the project by the state Office of Community Renewal (OCR). The village also shares a $177,000 grant with Valatie and has private contributions for the construction of the line from business owners in the village. But in January the board was told by OCR that there were several conditions the board has to meet before the village could receive the grant money. One of the stipulations was an economic study that had to be done to make sure that a certain percentage of residents in the B1 district who would benefit from the sewer qualified as having low to moderate incomes.

“Looks like we met the criteria,” Ms. Weaver said at a board meeting Wednesday, March 14. The survey shows that 60.43% of the 48 residents living in the apartments and houses in the area meet low to moderate income criteria. “And we only needed 50%,” said board member Brain Murphy, who helped conduct the survey, which meant going door to door and talking renters and owners.

The mayor also said at the meeting that OCR was making a determination on whether the grant was an economic job creation grant or an infrastructure upgrade grant. If the money is for infrastructure, then no money would have to be paid back. If it is for job creation and if the promised jobs were not created and businesses closed within to five years, the whole amount of the grant would have to paid back.

In a phone interview Monday, Ms. Weaver said OCR has determined it was an economic grant, meaning jobs must be created. She assumes those jobs will be created at the Dutch Inn, but that means the restaurant must stay open for at least five years or the people in the B1 area would be stuck paying back the $285,000.

Ms. Weaver said the village does have permission from the state to lay the sewer lines under the sidewalk, which officials hope will be built this summer. The sidewalk project also has state and federal grant money. And the two village boards plan to borrow some of the funds for the project through bonds, because state funds promised for the sidewalk have not yet been received.

Ms. Weaver stressed the Kinderhook board has not yet approved laying the sewer lines or moving forward with the sewer project. The board wants more information from OCR and board members must discuss what to do about the economic grant, she said.

Congressman Chris Gibson (R-20th) hosted a meeting with the board, its engineers and representatives from OCR at his office in the village earlier this month, and representatives from the congressman’s office attended the board meeting last week, hoping they could offer help with the funding issues.

The board will meet several times in the coming months to discuss these and other issues, including the 2012-13 village budget. The board’s next regular meeting will be Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the village hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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