Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Funding news across the park

Route 9N

Funding opportunities and scrutiny

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $3.7 million in grant funding is available to Adirondack and Catskill park communities through the Environmental Protection Fund. The deadline to apply is 3 p.m. on Jan. 31. It is part of the Smart Growth Grants program, focused on “projects that will link environmental projection, economic development, and community livability in the forest preserve,” according to a newsletter. It’s an interesting way the governor’s office phrased that as you can’t live in the forest preserve proper.

The Adirondacks is specifically earmarked for $2.7 million, while the Catskill Park will get $1 million. The governor’s office listed eligible projects including bike-friendly routes; improving museums and theaters; improvements to downtowns; multi-use trail development; zoning updates; visitor center improvements; and adding sidewalks to hamlets and villages.

Learn how to apply for the funding here: https://grantsmanagement.ny.gov/.

On Monday afternoon, Hochul announced $100 million in roadway investments across the state, including $8.8 million for North Country projects. The money comes from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Projects are expected to begin in the spring. North Country projects are copied and pasted below from the news release.

  • $1.8 million to resurface Route 9N from County Route 2 (Creek Road) to Route 185 (Bridge Road) in the Town of Crown Point, Essex County.
  • $1.1 million to resurface Route 3 from Cadyville to Route 22B in the Town of Plattsburgh, Clinton County.
  • $231,000 to resurface Routes 970F, 970G & 970H connecting Route 374 to Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh, Clinton County.
  • $881,488 to resurface Route 30 from Rock Island Bay to Moody in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County.
  • $394,329 to resurface Route 11 from Raymond Street to Route 24 in the Town of Malone, Franklin County.
  • $1.1 million to resurface Route 12E from Limerick to Chaumont Village in the Towns of Brownville and Lyme, Jefferson County.
  • $276,381 to resurface Route 3 from Wilton Road to Route 26 in the Town of Champion, Jefferson County.
  • $1.2 million to resurface Route 26 from Lowville Village North line to Arthur Road in the Town of Lowville, Lewis County.
  • $487,920 to resurface Route 410 from Route 26 to Castorland West Village line in the Town of Denmark, Lewis County.
  • $915,025 to resurface Route 812 from Heuvelton to McIntyre Road in the Town of Oswegatchie, St. Lawrence County.
  • $398,000 to resurface Route 11B from Nicholville to Fisk Road in the Town of Lawrence, St. Lawrence County.

Other means of funding projects in the Adirondacks and across the state received recent scrutiny by a nonprofit government watchdog organization. The Empire Center released a list of projects funded by state lawmakers and the Hochul administration that were supported outside of the state budget. They call these pet projects “pork.” In total the group found 359 projects totaling $191 million, “financed through the state Dormitory Authority, which issues bonds.” A couple of items in the Adirondacks were on that list. They included:

  • $250,000 for the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties, Inc. for the design and construction of a recreation center
  • $125,000 to the town of Tupper Lake to renovate and upgrade a municipal golf course.

The largest recipient was the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, which received $20 million for the expansion of the Albright-Knox Gallery. You can view full list here.

 

Adirondack Park Agency

In my last newsletter I mentioned that the Adirondack Park Agency posted a new job for an executive assistant with a salary between $79,410 and $99,213. The posting had concerned David Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, considering its job description contained a number of things Gibson thought the executive director and others should already be doing. APA Executive Director Barbara Rice said the position had been vacant for a couple of years.

On See Through NY, a website run by The Empire Center that posts state employee payroll information, I found the last person to hold that position received a salary of about $56,000. Keith McKeever, communications director of the APA, explained why the position’s maximum salary is almost doubled: “(T)he Executive Assistant position requires a higher level of education or experience and includes supervision of support staff, organization of materials for board meetings, and proficiency with a broad range of technology.  The qualifications for this position have been updated from the 2013 Secretary to the Executive Director job description to be more reflective of the demands and responsibilities of the position.”

The job posting closed on Nov. 21. It’s not clear when the APA may announce a new hire.

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/index.cfm. The APA’s comment page was down at the time of this newsletter writing.

 

Environmental Notice Bulletin 

Last week’s state Department of Environmental Conservation’s environmental notice bulletin had the following new projects out for public comment.

  • Mitchell Stone Products LLC proposes to add 22 acres to the existing 23-acre life of mine area crushed stone mine within parcels totaling 1,155 acres, owned by Mountain Endeavors LLC on Tahawus Road in the town of Newcomb. The mine is intended to continue operating as a crushed stone operation using waste rock left behind from historical mining operations at the site. Mining is proposed to remove approximately 50,000 tons of material annually during a 75-year operation. Excavation will be done by mechanical equipment. Mining is proposed to take place entirely above the local water table. The reclamation plan includes grading the area to allow for continued industrial uses. Comments are due by Dec. 22. For more information and to submit comments, contact Benjamin M. Shubert, NYSDEC Region 5 Headquarters, 1115 St Rte 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or email DEP.R5@dec.ny.gov.
  • The New York Power Authority is seeking to renew its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operating license for the Hinckley (Jarvis) Hydroelectric Project (Project) on Hinckley Reservoir in the town of Trenton, Oneida County and town of Russia, Herkimer County. The DEC must issue a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the project. The project consists of Hinckley Reservoir, Hinckley Dam, two penstocks, the Jarvis powerhouse, a tailrace channel, two low-level outlets, a switchyard, and appurtenant facilities. The power house contains two 4.5-megawatt horizontal Kaplan turbine-generator units. The project discharges water from the powerhouse through a 280-foot long tailrace into the West Canada Creek/Prospect Pond. The DEC is proposing to authorize a 40-year water quality certification. Comments are due by Dec. 7. To learn more and to submit comments, contact Todd J. Phillips, NYSDEC Region 6 Utica Sub-Office, State Office Building, 207 Genesee St. Utica, NY 13501 or email DEP.R6@dec.ny.gov.

Postscript

The Adirondack Explorer has a new website! Please check it out if you haven’t already. My most recent piece for our November/December issue of the magazine is up online about some local off-the-gridders. If you haven’t read it yet, please click here.

Couple stand near a woodpile

Rodney Morgan and Donna Kagiliery rely heavily on firewood to heat their home. Photo by Mike Lynch.

Photo at top: Route 9N. Photo by Zachary Matson.

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.




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