Potsdam to dole out $200,000 for building rehab; applications accepted soon
Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 8:18 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM – Potsdam will begin accepting applications in about two months for some of the $200,000 in building renovation funds awarded to the village through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“It will be two months or so before we receive the contract from the state” for the funds from the state Office of Community Renewal, according to Fred Hanss of the Potsdam Planning and Development Office.

The grant funding will be used to finance the renovation of at least four mixed-use or commercial buildings in the village.

Through the course of several similar programs over the years, downtown building facades have been improved and some critical renovation work has been done. It has been so successful that there is a waiting list of building owners waiting for assistance from another round of grants. The state administrators of the programs “have been a good partner over the years,” Hanss said.

Some of the money will be used to develop and install new wayfinding signs, to buy new bicycle racks for downtown, and to remove the old Mongolian sand pear trees along streets downtown.

“For one thing, this particular grant means the end to our annual sand pear mess downtown,” said Mayor Steven Yurgartis, referring to the dropping of the trees’ fruit each year on village sidewalks. The trees were planted some years ago as a way to improve the look of downtown, but the pear variety has proven to be a bothersome choice.

“We’ll remove and replace them with something more appropriate as part of forestry and streetscape enhancement,” said Hanss.

The money will “bring some nice improvements to our historic buildings and signage to help our many visitors find things more easily,” the mayor said.

“This grant is another example of how village staff, particularly Fred Hanss and our Planning and Development Office, are successfully bringing new investments to our community,” Yurgartis said.

Once the state processes the grant agreement, the mayor says parts of the project could start in late spring.