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July 3, 2020 - 2:44pm

Village of Bergen putting state grants to good use in sprucing up downtown

Photo: This is the new façade on Morgan’s Place on Bergen’s North Lake Street (Main Street). The bar is one of the buildings being restored or repaired with a New York Main Street grant.

Updating and preserving the property in her hometown has been a priority Anna Marie Barclay for many years, especially since she became the mayor of the Village of Bergen.

She was involved for 12 years in the application process to obtain a New York State Main Street grant for Bergen’s downtown, so when they were finally approved last year, she was ecstatic. 

The grants were made available for villages to complete visually prominent projects on Main Street, which included renovation of residential units or projects with historic value or historic properties in danger of being lost in part or in total due to disrepair or damage.

Bergen received $475,000, which is dispersed to property owners on Main Street who may each receive up to $50,000 in matching funds. 

Barclay said the application process was complicated and time consuming, requiring each building owner to submit a plan for improving their property. All applications had to be approved by the New York State Historic Preservation Office.

Recently, Joe Chimino, a member of Bergen’s Hesperus Masonic Lodge #837, and Barclay inspected damage on the front of their buildings, which will be repaired, thanks to the grant.

Barclay said permits have been acquired and a new contractor hired in preparation for work to begin.

The Lodge building, as well as Barclay’s adjoining one, will undergo renovations including replacement of rotted wood, new paint and refinishing front doors. Several store fronts will receive new windows, as well as new heating and air conditioning in the building.

Barclay’s husband, David, has already spent months working in the exterior of their brick building, which will also have the brick repointed. That is the process of renewing the pointing -- the external part of mortar joints -- in masonry construction. Over time, weathering and decay cause voids in the joints between masonry units, usually in bricks, allowing the undesirable entrance of water.

When the Barclays first bought the building, they thought they would fix the front and two apartments upstairs. They put up $25,000 toward the work. David was planning to restore the façade and then they were going to decide what to do with it from there. The building is Victorian, having been built in the 1800s, Barclay said. 

“We want to bring it back to its original status, with historically correct colors,” she said. “We are going to keep the tin ceiling.”

Most recently, the downstairs was a church and rows of pews are still there. Barclay said they envision the space as suitable for a small bistro or an art gallery.

North of Buffalo Road is the block that houses the village offices. Five buildings, all part of the historic renovation, include Morgan’s Place, a totally redone bar with a new façade, new H-vac system, new insulation and new glass front. Work is also being done on two apartments upstairs. The building formerly housed a bank and post office.

Across the street, B.A. Photography, owned by the Schmidts, has an apartment upstairs. The grant will take care of restoring the entire exterior, while keeping the façade original, Barclay said.

Part of the grant was called “Streetscape,” and allows for work enhancing Downtown. Across from the village office, Zuber Park will have a little sidewalk library.

The village’s DPW is building new planters for Downtown and all buildings will have new signs and lighting, paid for by the Streetscape grant. A parking lot adjacent to B.A. Photography will have new planters. An old metal guardrail will be replaced by a wooden one. 

In other Bergen news, Barclay said during the coronavirus pandemic, she has been meeting virtually with all lawmakers throughout Genesee County to discuss how they are all coping during this time. 

“Our budget has been crushed,” she said. “With businesses closed, our sales tax revenue is basically nil.”

On a positive note, Barclay said she and local volunteers delivered 3,200 meals to deserving families since the public health crisis began March 27. Food was donated and meals were prepared at a local church. 

“Our volunteers were amazing,” she said.

Barclay said she was worried about some of individuals and wondered how they would fare now that meal deliveries have stopped. Those names she referred to the county Office for the Aging, she said. 

The village office, which has been closed since March, reopens by appointment next week.

Above photo: Village of Bergen Mayor Anna Marie Barclay points to the tin ceiling in the building at the corner of South Lake Avenue and Buffalo Road, which she and her husband, David, purchased several years ago. The Barclays are planning to renovate the building with assistance from the Main Street Grant, for which the village was approved last year.

Above photo: Joe Chimino, a member of Bergen’s Hesperus Masonic Lodge #837, and Village of Bergen Mayor Anna Marie Barclay look at the building’s deteriorating storefront, which will be repaired with money received from the Main Street Grant.

Photo above: Village of Bergen Mayor Anna Marie Barclay and village administrator Cortney Gale stand in the entrance to the village office on North Lake Street. The office, which has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic began, will open by appointment starting Monday.

Photos courtesy of Virginia Kropf.

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