Effort to secure Main Street Grant finally pays off in Bergen
It has been more than a decade since officials in the Village of Bergen first applied for a Main Street Grant, and finally, their efforts have paid off.
Mayor Anna Marie Barclay said she doesn’t know how many applications her administration and others before her have submitted in hopes of receiving a Main Street Grant from the New York State Housing Trust Fund. She believes what led to their success this time was the fact all Main Street property owners participated.
The grant of $474,750 will allow property owners to apply for amounts of $25,000 for an apartment and $50,000 for commercial space, up to a total of $100,000 per building to renovate or upgrade their buildings. Eligible buildings include the Masonic Lodge at 12 S. Lake St. to the railroad tracks on the west side of the street and Brett-Ashley Schmidt’s photographic studio across from the Village offices. Property owners must contribute a minimum of 25 percent.
Village Administrator Cortney Gale was first notified of the grant by Genesee County Economic Development Center in late December and called Barclay at home to tell her.
“He could hardly get the words out,” the mayor said. “We had been on the short list last year and held our breath, but then we didn’t get it.”
“We even contemplated if we wanted to go through the process to apply again,” Gale said.
Barclay said they had talked about joining with Le Roy to apply next year, figuring they would be turned down again.
“Everybody was kind of stunned,” she said.
There is still a lot of work to do before any money is received. Property owners must decide what their projects will be and a committee will have to be formed to oversee and approve those projects.
Gale said the committee could be formed by a group of community members or an outside firm might possibly be hired.
The village will contribute to downtown improvements with $17,000 in a Streetscape fund. This will be used to put signage on each building, keeping with a Victorian design; gooseneck lighting on each building front; and the upgrade of plantings on sidewalks and parking areas.
A telephone booth on the photography studio on the east side of Lake Street will be converted into a little library, where books will be available to the public.
“It is very encouraging to have so many property owners participate and buy into our vision,” Gale said.
“It is exciting and it is our job to support them to make sure the process is as easy as possible for them,” Barclay said. “We realize it must have been difficult for them to keep the faith. This is a commitment on their part, as well as ours.
Bergen Mayor Anna Marie Barclay and village Administrator Cortney Gale discuss their success in receiving a Main Street Grant after at least 10 years of trying.
(Photos by Virginia Kropf.)