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Albion mayor says grantwriter paying off for village

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2016 at 2:30 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers: The basketball hoop at Bullard Park is pictured in this file photo from Aug. 4, 2015. The state is providing nearly $500,000 to upgrade the park.

Photos by Tom Rivers: The basketball hoop at Bullard Park is pictured in this file photo from Aug. 4, 2015. The state is providing nearly $500,000 to upgrade the park.

ALBION – The Village of Albion for two years has paid a professional grantwriter $34,000 annually to prepare grant applications for the village.

Mayor Dean London said the Village Board has received some criticism for paying a grantwriter that much money – a flat fee for the year.

But London said recent announcements, including last week’s $499,605 grant for Bullard Park, shows the value in having a grantwriter.

“We took a pretty big leap of faith by hiring a grantwriter,” London said on Wednesday evening about retaining the services of Jean O’Connell and Associates in Clarence.

The village tried three times before for a grant for Bullard but was denied state funding. This time the money came through and will pay for a spray park, amphitheater/performance stage, a walking/hiking trail with signage, infrastructure (water and sewer) for the spray park, a utility building, and parking lot and lighting improvements.

London praised many volunteers for pushing for park upgrades. Rebuild Bullard, the Albion Lions Club, the Metro 10 Race Committee, Rock the Park and other community members have been unwavering in supporting the park, London said.

“We worked very hard and the department heads deserve some recognition,” London said about securing the grant. “This is a huge opportunity for this community.”

The grant also includes $166,370 in kind-services or funding. London said the Town of Albion has been giving $8,000 recently to the village towards the park, and London said he would check with Albion Town Supervisor Matt Passarell to see if the town contribution could go towards that local match.

The Village Board also said it would reach out to county officials to see if more local sales tax could go to the village, especially as it takes on projects that will draw people to the community, generating more local sales tax revenue.

The village also has been awarded $75,000 from the state for “zombie homes” – abandoned houses that are not maintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings.

Albion has identified 43 zombie homes in the village. The state funding will help Albion implement a plan for researching which bank owns the vacant houses, market the sites to prospective homeowners, provide financial counseling for potential homeowners, and pay for legal work to possibly acquire the houses through Albion’s local development corporation (LDC) and then seek requests for proposals (RFPs) for the sites.

London also said the village has secured a fluoride grant for about $30,000 with O’Connell’s help.

Albion also sought a Main Street grant for the downtown business district but was denied in the funding announced last week. London said the application scored well.

“We were very close with that,” he said during Wednesday’s board meeting. “Next year is another opportunity.”

 The clock in downtown Albion is pictured this morning after the area was besieged with snow. The village was denied a state “Main Street” grant last week, but intends to try again next year.

The clock in downtown Albion is pictured this morning after the area was besieged with snow. The village was denied a state “Main Street” grant last week, but intends to try again next year.

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