Red Hook gets state grant to buy village parking lot

The Village of Red Hook may finally own its own parking lot.

In a surprise announcement at Hardscrabble Day Sept. 20, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess), flanked by village officials Mayor Ed Blundell, Deputy Mayor Brent Kovalchik and Trustee Jennifer Norris, unveiled a Community Capital Assistance Program Grant that will allow the village to purchase and improve the lot on Prince Street across from Village Hall.

“This is important news for the Red Hook community,” said Cahill. “Now the village will be able buy and own the facility, to make critical infrastructural repairs, institute a more efficient parking system and beautify the area for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

The .42 acre lot is owned by Key Bank and has been rented for several years for $1 a year by the village for municipal parking and community activities, like Hardscrabble Day and the Red Hook Farmer’s Market.

After the announcement, Blundell said, “It is my hope that this space will be upgraded to provide all with efficient parking and better access to our many businesses, and serve as a venue for people to come together for community festivals and celebrations.”

He also told the Observer that the village has been working for about six years to figure out a way to buy the parking lot but had not been able to find the necessary funds without significantly raising taxes. According to county records, the parking lot property is valued at $70,400.

“The biggest impediment for us has been the tax burden,” Blundell said. “Each $10,000 is a 1 percent increase, so it’s great the Assemblyman saw this and was able to help us.”

The state grant, however, has no monetary amount at this point, according to Blundell.

That’s because contract negotiation are underway with the bank for the purchase price, he said. “We told Key Bank we have a funding source, but the grant is not locked in… We have to justify it to a bigger audience at the state level.”

Once a purchase price is agreed upon, he added, village officials will have to present it to the state to get final approval on the grant. If the grant is secured, surveying and environmental testing will have to be done to ensure that the property has no environmental contaminants. Only then can the purchase go through, Blundell said.

The grant comes from the State Legislature, was approved by the state Assembly and will be monitored by the New York State Dormitory Authority. According to the Community Capital Assistance Program website, in 2005 the minimum award per grant was increased to between $50,000 and $125,000.

The tentative name for the project is “Communi-Park” and plans call for improved signage and a bus shelter on the north side of the information kiosk, a new gazebo-like structure on the south side and upgraded electrical systems for musical acts and community celebrations like Hardscrabble Day.

Even as the negotiations continue, Blundell said he was looking forward to next year.
“We’d like to move forward starting Jan.15, 2015 and get everything done by Sept.15, just in time for Hardscrabble Day,” he said.

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