Potsdam Town Council seeks grant to revamp Town Hall basement
Friday, April 13, 2018 - 12:08 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM -- The Town Council has approved a resolution to apply for a $20,000 grant to help outfit its basement room as a second community room in Town Hall at 18 Elm St.

The existing first-floor Community Room is being rented frequently, 270 times in 2017, according to wording in the resolution.

About 10 percent of the use is from businesses who need space for meetings, interviewing job candidates, and for other purposes. Other anticipated uses would be for room for some work by lawyers, such as a private space for client conferences, particularly for out-of-town attorneys who have clients here, or space for mediation cases. Another possible use would be as shelter space in emergencies.

Town Clerk Cindy Goliber said she believes there is demand to justify preparing such a space, with its accessibility and parking.

Any extra cost resulting from rentals, such as cleanup, would be covered by the rental fees, it was suggested.

Tisdel Associates, a consulting engineering firm in Canton, estimates the cost for the proposed work would be about $56,000 to replace a temporary wall in the basement space with a permanent retractable one, build bathrooms, and put in flooring. That would not include additional items such as furniture, according to Town Councilor Rose Rivezzi, who sponsored the resolution.

The grant, from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Local Development Corporation, is for $20,000. The rest of the funds would come from the $384,000 balance of the town’s annual Empire Zone funding that came from the state for several years about 15 years ago. It was that fund that paid for the new Town Hall, which cost $1.76 million when it opened in 2012, and did not cost local taxpayers any extra.

In fact it was suggested that if the proposed grant did not come through, the town might consider paying for the project completely with that money.

In any case, Town Attorney Frank Cappello advised the board to go ahead with it if they want it and not wait if grant funding gets held up, because the longer the board waits “the more it will cost.”

And Rivezzi said that “if we plan to spend money on it, it strengthens the application” for the grant by showing clear intent and support.

The resolution said the new space would “support local entrepreneurs and businesses who need a temporary space to help facilitate job-growth in our community.”

The vote on the resolution was unanimous, with councilors Rivezzi, Lister, Rich and Carvill voting in favor. Supervisor Rollin Beattie was absent from the meeting.

The grant application is due at IDA offices this week.