Catamount, Olana get leg up on new state grants

ALBANY–Congratulations are not in order yet, but The Olana Partnership and Catamount are two of 46 proposals under consideration statewide as “priority projects” of the Capitol District Regional Development Council.

The projects have not necessarily moved ahead of other proposals, but they will have a 20% edge said Ken Flood, commissioner of Planning and Economic Development for Columbia County. New York’s Capital Region Economic Development Council program, now in its second year, is expected to announce grant recipients sometime this fall.

The designation was awarded to projects judged to have potential for job creation, the ability to attract investment beyond state and government funding, and to stimulate economic growth. Priority projects may have a better chance than other proposals at a slice of the $760-million funding pie because they are seen as “economically transformational.”

The purpose of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative is to use state funding from a variety of resources to jumpstart economic growth in a process driven by local needs. The program requires constituents to work together to solve regional economic problems.

Projects apply for funding with a consolidated funding application, which can provide access to economic development funds from 21 programs run by a dozen state agencies. Grants received locally will be administered by the Columbia County Economic Development Corporation. Columbia County is part of the Capitol District Regional Council, one of 10 such regional councils statewide.

Catamount Resort is seeking $1 million to cover the construction of a sewer system and site improvement. Developer Henry Freeman of Rock Solid Development, LLC, the company that will manage the project, says his plan is the first phase of a larger upgrade and may cost $25-$30 million. The developer estimates the construction will bring 100 jobs to the area.

The plan calls for up to 125,000 square feet of new space for 148 hotel/condo units, a new lodge, reception area and other guest amenities, including a spa, retail, banquet and restaurant spaces, but will start with 54 condo units.

“A $1 million grant would be great in this challenging economy, said Mr. Freeman. “Catamount, with its ski resort and ropes course, is a fun place for families. Our aim is to enhance what they are already doing and make this a four season resort,” he said.

The Olana Partnership has applied for $418,000 to restore grounds and outbuildings to in order to recreate the working farm that existed during the lifetime of painter Frederic Church and that he depicted in his paintings. The state historic site attracts over 150,000 visitors annually and contributes $7.9 million to the local economy.

The Town of Prattsville in Greene County is seeking funds to acquire property located above its flood line to build new housing and commercial space as part of its recovery from  Hurricane Irene.

Catskill has applied for funds for a waterfront enhancement project that includes the design and construction of a Catskill Creek walking trail. Other priority projects include a plan for a Stainless Steel Foundry in Hudson Falls, and a Meals on Wheels kitchen and a waterfront performance facility in Albany.

Last year $2.2 million was awarded to support the development of a rail trans-loading facility in Greenport for businesses that do not have rail access. The project remains in development while questions pertaining to ownership and DOT regulations are dealt with. Construction of new track and other infrastructure will be managed by Lone Star Development Corporation.


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