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Municipalities receives preservation grants for structure reports, surveys

Tuesday, December 06, 2016 - Updated: 7:15 AM


Recorder News staff

Two Montgomery County municipalities were among 26 applicants to receive funding that will help preservation efforts in their community.

New York State Council on the Arts and the Preservation League of New York State awarded $202,000 in Preserve New York Grants last week. The grants can be used for historic structure reports, cultural landscape reports, cultural resource surveys and building condition reports.

The village of St. Johnsville received $9,000 and the village of Fultonville received $4,500.

Ryan Weitz, Fultonville historian, said this is the second Preserve New York grant the municipality has been awarded. The first, he explained, was received a couple of years ago and was used to complete a cultural resources survey of all the structures in the village. Weitz said the survey looked at the conditions and structure of each building to determine the potential eligibility for enlisting inclusion in a National Historic District.

He proposed the grant to the village board because structures that are listed on the national register and structures within the National Historic District are eligible for the New York State rehabilitation tax credit and the federal government's rehabilitation tax credit. These tax credits are worth between 20 and 40 percent of the rehabilitation cost.

"It's a refundable program," Weitz said. "It's a really financially lucrative and beneficial program for property owners to recoup some of their investment in rehabilitating historic structures."

Weitz said the "second phase" of the grant will allow the village to pursue the nomination to create a Fultonville historic district. This would allow property owners within the district to apply for the tax credit.

Mathew Rapacz, historian for St. Johnsville, said the village also received grant funds about two years ago to perform a cultural resources survey. The village is also pursing being added to the National and State Historic Place Registers. Rapacz said the most recent funds will be used for the second phase of the project. He said a consultant has taken pictures and conducted research to see if the village structures were eligible.

"So if that's successful most of the village structures will be placed on the National and State Historic Registers," Rapacz said.

He explained how property owners within this district would be eligible for the state and federal tax credits.

Weitz said a common misconception about being added to the National Register, is it puts restraints on the property owner. But Weitz assured there are no restraints on what a private property owner can do to their historically registered property.

According to a release from Preservation League of New York State, all applicants must be a not-for-profit group with tax-exempt status or a unit of local government. State agencies and religious institutions are not eligible to apply for funding. A total of $202,000 in Preserve New York Grants was awarded to 26 applicants in 18 counties throughout the state.

"We've seen what National Historic Districts lists can do for other communities," Weitz said. "It's a sense of pride for a community to take some honor in the community's history and use that to define ourselves in the future."