HOW can this project
Nan Stolzenburg, Land use & community planning consultant, answers questions below...
I’ve lived in the Town of Wright for 39 years and have spent 28 years being a land use and community planning consultant with rural towns all over NYS. I specialize in helping communities plan for their future by understanding their assets and helping them figure out how they can take advantage of those assets to benefit residents – that includes identifying funding sources and grant writing for capital projects.
Are small towns eligible for money grants?
Absolutely. NYS alone offers millions of dollars in grants each year. There are federal grants and private foundations as well. There is an expansive list of grant opportunities to help with municipal and community improvements and adaptive reuse of historic buildings.
How come we don’t hear much about grants in the Town of Wright?
Simple - Because the Town hasn’t asked... At least in about 25 years. But in fact, in the 1990’s the Town did ask and received a $50,000 grant from NYS (a substantial amount in those days), along with the Iroquois Gas Transmission Company and the local Fenimore Assets Foundation, that was used to stabilize and rehabilitate the Gallupville House. That funded work that brought the building up to where it is today.
I was involved in that grant writing and it was pretty simple – we had a need, made a good case, we asked and we got the funding. I’d like to add that the 1990’s grant holds importance even today because we can show that the State already has recognized this building's value to the Town. New grant requests can build on that investment from years ago!
What’s the advantage of the Town of Wright and the Gallupville House Association (GHA) collaborating?
While the Town would be eligible for some grants, it they were to just seek funding for a town hall on their own, it would be more difficult. There are fewer funding opportunities for single purposes such as a Town Hall, and use of tax dollars are usually required for projects like that.
State, and many federal grants promote collaboration and you actually get higher scores for your grant when you have multiple partners involved. Partnership with the Gallupville House Association would increase grant success. Another advantage is that the GHA can ask for donations, private foundation funding support and do direct fundraising campaigns - all activities that the Town cannot do.
And, the GHA includes local residents committed to contributing time and effort – all of which can be counted as matching contributions to any state grant.
Finally, a building project that promotes multiple uses and meets many community goals are also attractive to funders. So the partnership between the Town (as a municipality) and the GHA (as a non-profit) is a perfect marriage with high chance of success.
How does a project like this get done in a town as small as Wright?
It’s not the size, but how well we show need, commitment, and planning. There are so many examples of small towns doing great things once they are organized. There are dozens and dozens of examples that shows big projects can happen in small places. It happens all the time! As an example, not too far away in the Village of Tannersville, a partnership between the Hunter Foundation and the Village resulted in a $10 million downtown revitalization grant. Their first request was not successful, but the second one was. Tannersville is a great example of a public/private relationship whose project, like ours, is based on need, commitment to community improvement, enthusiasm for the project among the elected officials and residents, and the willingness to take time, get organized, and work for it together - just like we are proposing here in Wright.
And, the Town and GHA will not be working on their own – there will be engineers and architects hired for the design and construction, and one of their roles will be to help their clients acquire funds to complete the project they are designing!
That is how these projects get done – great ideas, community support, willingness to sell the idea and organize, and professionals to assist and guide you. It is not pie in the sky – it happens all the time and we can definitely make it happen here.
Is it really reasonable to think this project won’t be a tax burden?
For all the reasons we’ve talked about, this is a great project that has a high likelihood of success for funding over time.
As an organization, the GHA certainly does not want anyone else’s taxes to increase because of this project.
This is an ideal project that can be funded by many other sources so it won’t be a tax burden.
It already has many positives:
The Town already owns the land and building;
The building is very stable and needs reconfiguration, but not a lot of rehabilitation;
There can be a partnership with the non-profit GHA;
It is a reuse of an existing, historic building;
The building can clearly serve a wide variety of both municipal and community uses.
All these make it ideal for funding. It may take a bit of time though. A capital improvement project like this may take several years from start to finish. We can take the time to attain funding from all our sources so it is not a tax burden.