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Urban Renewal Agency consultant Nick Zabawsky, right, address the board during its Thursday meeting about the coming year's budget.

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URA meets, discusses projects

Friday, March 29, 2013 - Updated: 4:28 PM

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

The Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency met in City Hall Wednesday for an update on agency projects and grants, and a discuss a possible sale of URA-owned land.

Nick Zabawsky, URA consultant, updated the board on the agency's finances and grants, along with their projects.

Zabawsky said that about four projects that the agency was working through with loans have been repaid. As for the city's grants, Zabawsky said they still have about 24 open grants in the city at this time, one of which is the Main Street grant, that Zabawsky said they are making the final push on. Facade work is being done on various buildings along with the rehab of the former United Way building.

"Hopefully, we'll get these all done by the time May comes around," he told them.

Zabawsky said he is also hoping that the storm-sewer separation project that the city has been working on for quite a while gets finished this year.

"There's a lot going on, that's for sure," said board member Michael LaCoppola.

One of the many projects city officials are working on right now is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a rehabilitation grant that the city received back in January to revamp the neighborhood in the James Street-Reid Street area.

"Some landlords are willing to make significant investments," Zabawsky said, adding there are three landlords who own about 14 different units in that area.

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, who attended the meeting, said she was curious to know whether the majority of the work was interior or facade work, but Zabawsky said it was a mix.

"We did an initial inspection on a property on James Street and the outside was gorgeous, but, inside, the electrical system was a disaster," he said. "There will be some sizable impact."

One of the final items on the agenda Thursday evening was regarding a URA-owned lot on Church Street, located above the Noteworthy complex.

Dave Falso, a landscaper and Amsterdam business-owner, said he was looking into the possibility of obtaining the land to open a bulk facility for landscaping material or a possible retail shed business.

Falso said he knows there definitely isn't enough room to do both, but was hoping to look into one, and is looking to buy pending an evaluation of the land.

URA members explained that the property is small and has to be sold for an appropriate market value as URA is a public authority.

URA Chairman Robert Martin, simply said: "I'd like to see something there that's attractive."

Falso said the location offers great visibility, but would like to look in to the adjacent lots to see if the owner, whoever it may be, would be willing to sell.

"We would really like to expand," Falso said.

The final piece of the agenda was to discuss the budget for the coming year. Zabawsky said they are now going to align their budget year with that of the city, and three larger grants really make up their $837,000 budget, a CDBG housing grant, a HOME grant, and a CDBG Public Works grant.

"Almost 99 percent is dictated by the grants coming," he said.

     

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