JOHNSTOWN - The Common Council voted Monday to move forward with pursuit of a joint grant with the city of Gloversville to improve the cities' downtown areas.
"This might be a grant that might be desirable for both cities to enter into," Mayor Sarah Slingerland said.
The council took a straw poll at City Hall and members decided to have City Engineer Chandra Cotter work closer with Gloversville Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones to secure the grant. She said she will report back to the council at its Sept. 3 meeting.
Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland discusses pursuing a grant jointly with Gloversville at the Johnstown Common Council meeting Monday night at City Hall. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)
"It sounds like something we should continue to pursue," 2nd Ward Councilman Chris Foss said.
Third Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin added, "It sounds like a very positive thing to do."
Slingerland and Cotter attended a recent session at Gloversville City Hall about a possible joint application between the Glove Cities through the state's Brownfield Opportunity Area Program. The cities are considering applying together for a possible $400,000 grant that would pay for a development study for both downtowns. At the session. Bergmann Associates said it would work with the cities to pursue the best options for a joint grant.
"We listened to their presentation," Slingerland said. "It was very professional and very good."
She said Bergmann has a "good rapport" with the state Department of State. She said the grant is 90 percent state-funded and 10 percent locally funded, including possible in-kind services.
Cotter noted it would be a planning grant the cities can pursue and no money would be dedicated to the "bricks and mortar" of any project.
"The grant would be $400,000," she said. "The details would have to be worked out."
The city of Johnstown is already pursuing a separate $200,000 state NY Main Street Grant to revitalize downtown. Officials said that grant would assist with downtown streetscape and building improvements. The grant would pay 75 percent of streetscape improvements up to $15,000 per project, with the city matching 25 percent toward improvements. The grant also would pay 75 percent of building renovations, with building owners matching 25 percent toward improvements.
Cotter said that her office now needs to do "legwork" before Johnstown can formally pursue the Brownfield grant with Gloversville.
Slingerland said the two cities have a "commonality" about them with infrastructure, such as sewer lines, and it will be up to engineers to study how to best improve the downtowns. She said there is "really no downside" to going after the grant. She said the obvious place for her city to start would be a study of the Main and Perry streets area. The mayor said the application fee would be about $7,000 to $8,000, to be split between the two cities.
The "upside" of paying for such an application will be that the "payback on the other end is great," Slingerland said. The city will look at how to pay for its share of the application fee and any other grant costs.
"It may become a  budgetary item," Slingerland said. "In the next few weeks, we'll look at it."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.