Town gets over $1M in grants for myriad projects

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

In 1994, before Altamont’s train station was reimagined as its library, a farmers’ market was held on the old train platform. Now, with new grant money, the platform will be upgraded for vendors at a farmers’ market regularly held there.

GUILDERLAND — State legislators backed two Guilderland grants — one for $700,000 and the other for $375,000 — which were announced this month.

Both were through the State and Municipal — known as SAM — Facilities Program administered by the state’s Dormitory Authority.

Donald Csaposs, Guilderland’s long-time grant writer, said the review process is “rather rigorous and some might say torturous.” Csaposs said he regularly reaches out to legislators to make them aware of Guilderland’s needs in hopes of securing SAM grants.

“Looking for money for capital projects is a never-ending process ...,” said Csaposs. “Fewer than one in 10 get funded but you just keep trying.”

State Senator George Amedore, a Republican who did not seek re-election in 2020, sponsored the $700,000 grant for improvements to Tawasentha Park.

“We gave him a laundry list of $1.5 million to $2 million for the park,” Csaposs told The Enterprise this week. Amedore, a developer, visited the park and asked probing questions, Csaposs said, before the laundry list was narrowed.

The $700,000 will be spent on a small expansion of the covered area in the park pavilion, electricity will be upgraded at the pavilion, and bathrooms there will be replaced.

At the park’s performing arts center, the stage, backstage, seating area, and parking area behind the bandshell will all be improved. Park improvements that will have to wait for another grant include repairing the ring road and enhancing the winter recreation area.

“The need hasn’t disappeared,” said Csaposs, so he’ll keep seeking funds for those projects.

Because the performing arts center gets such heavy use during the summer, Csaposs said, work will likely wait until after Labor Day. The expectation is to complete the projects this year using a combination of town workers and contractors secured through the bidding process.

The $375,000 SAM grant was sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.

“When Pat Fahy said she could nominate us for that amount, we took out the list,” said Csaposs, explaining that it is not a formal, set list but ever-changing. “You can’t FOIL for a wish list,” he said, referencing the state’s Freedom of Information Law. “It’s dynamic.”

The grant will cover a number of unrelated town projects with price tags that fit the funds. The outdoor platform at the Altamont Free Library, once a shelter for train travelers, will be upgraded for vendors at a farmers’ market regularly held there.

“We’re respectful of history,” said Csaposs, noting the Victorian structure won’t be tampered with.

The funds will also pay for sound-absorbing panels to be installed in a room at Mill Hollow Apartments that the town uses as its senior center. “It’s a beautiful room,” said Csaposs, “but the sound in there is bouncy.” When seniors gather there for congregate meals, a lot of them speak loudly and “it’s very distracting,” he said.

The funds will also pay for new controls for the heating, ventilation, anda air-conditioning system at the town hall, which Csaposs said is 50 years old and hasn’t run well in the quarter-century he’s worked there. Ultimately, the system will need to be replaced, he said.

Finally, the grant will pay for bike lanes on Fuller Station and Frenchs Hollow roads, which lead to a pedestrian bridge and are extensively used by cyclists, Csaposs said, describing them as “bendy, twisty roads without shoulders.” The roads will be widened for bike lanes.

The grant money will be used for materials to widen the roads, he said, with installation by the highway department. While the SAM program will pay for outside contractors, it will not reimburse for municipal labor, Csaposs said.

Csaposs concluded that he often hears people saying, “We don’t get grants.” He counters, “We’re working on them all the time.”

While some grant applications are data heavy, Csaposs, a one-time English teacher, says his favorite part about writing grants is telling a compelling story.

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