No grant, but gate study moves ahead
VOORHEESVILLE — The village board’s application for a grant to enhance the rail trail corridor that runs through the village was denied, but the board plans to go ahead with trail improvements on a smaller scale, according to Mayor Robert Conway.
Also, the board continued its quest to quiet train whistles for the CSX tracks that run through the village by filing a Notice of Intent to create a quiet zone.
The board requested a $1.2 million grant through the Transportation Alternatives Program in June to allow the development of the Grove Street trailhead of the rail trail with a rail museum and additional parking in Voorheesville’s downtown business district. Two weeks ago, the board learned its application had been denied.
“We were notified that some of the things we had submitted on the grant…they felt was not transportation-related,” Conway told The Enterprise.
At the board’s August workshop, the board agreed to speak with the New York State Department of Transportation to discuss the denial. Some of the items on the application were “minor submissions or not intended to be included” in the grant, but were described to give a broad understanding of the project, Conway said.
“The grant application is very in-depth. We listed all the components and elements of what we were planning on doing,” including costs, he said.
“Not all the issues they listed were minor,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we understood the nature of the denial.”
In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that $50 million in federal funding was available statewide from the Federal Highway Administration through the TAP program. The state DOT is administering the program, which will fund a variety of alternative transportation projects, including the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
“We’ll still move forward on some of the things on our own with our own staff…obviously not at $1.2 million,” Conway said.
He said the village may work on the rail trail between Voorheesville Avenue down to Grove Street.
“We can clear that last remaining section and do some grading…at the Grove Street intersection to create additional parking,” Conway said. Any work done would be within the current budget, he said.
“We could probably do some preliminary things this year, but we’ll have to see how we can fit it into the schedule…for next spring. The trail does get a fair amount of use in the winter season,” he said.
Had the plan been approved, the improvements could have increased the demand for local businesses, Conway said.
“I think we can still accomplish that,” he said. “We certainly haven’t given up the project.”
The village may reapply next year, he said.
Earlier this month, the village completed its preparation of the Notice of Intent so that the Albany County Department of Public Works could submit the NOI to the Federal Railroad Administration and CSX.
“It’s part of the process,” Conway said about the filing. “It’s something that is required as we move toward the study of the quiet zone. I want to say it’s complicated — a matter of gathering different pieces of information and submitting them. The timeline is not something we have control over.”
The next step is to “bring in engineers to begin the study,” Conway said. The village will pay for engineering services contracted out by CSX, he said.
The study, estimated last year at $27,000 by a Committee for a Quiet Zone volunteer engineer, received a $27,500 grant from the Albany County Legislature this spring.
Committee members acknowledged the grant on their website www.voorheesvilleqz.com:
“The Committee for a Quiet Zone in Voorheesville would like to thank County Legislators [L. Michael] Mackey and [Herbert] Reilly, and Mayor Conway for their efforts in securing funding for the design.”
Conway told The Enterprise that the village is at the mercy of other agencies’ schedules.
“There is, at least, progress,” he said.