By Patsy Nicosia
COBLESKILL -- Cobleskill Partnership Inc.’s efforts to dress up Main Street got a welcome shot in the arm Friday when State Senator Jim Seward delivered a check for $40,000.
The grant will go toward CPI’s popular façade program, said President Brian Kaiser, with a portion set aside specifically for work on the Newberry’s building.
“I’m a firm believer that downtowns and Main Streets are the real heart of our upstate communities,” Senator Seward told a crowd of about 30 CPI members and SUNY Cobleskill representatives.
“Here in Cobleskill, some wonderful steps are already being taken.”
Last spring, nearly a dozen Main Street businesses took advantage of $15,000 CPI fronted for façade improvements.
The program offered grants of 50 percent of a project’s cost up to a maximum of $750 per project.
The Senate grant will allow CPI to continue and even expand the program in 2010.
In light of New York State’s budget crisis, Senator Seward said there might be some who’d question grants like this.
"But even in these troubled economic times, it’s important that the state provides targeted assistance to help jumpstart local economies,” he said.
“So much money has already been spent…on Wall Street, but we can’t forget the importance on Main Street.”
Mr. Kaiser thanked Senator Seward for being someone who “gets it” when it comes to the challenges facing places like Cobleskill.
“Façade improvements, particularly on a gateway building like Newbery’s, are critical to CPI’s efforts to change the face of Main Street,” he said. “First impressions are everything.”
CPI’s ultimate goal, Mr. Kaiser added, is to create a community, a quality of life, and a business climate that helps create jobs and opportunities.
Before he was elected mayor, Mark Nadeau campaigned to have the Village and Town of Cobleskill, along with several Schoharie County agencies, relocate to the Newberry’s building.
All decided the building still needs too much work and the town in December moved into village space on Mineral Springs Road.
Now-Mayor Nadeau has said all along he sees that as just a temporary solution and Friday he said he’d still like to see everyone back downtown.
“Our glass isn’t half empty, it’s half-full,” he said. “We’re hoping to relocate our offices here…get the Police Department down here, the IDA…
“We need an economic center we can work out of…a ‘green’ building with an outside parking lot and an elevator. It can be done.”
On hand to offer his congratulations, Assemblyman Pete Lopez agreed on the importance of downtowns.
“This sends a message to the rest of Main Street that there is a start, there is a spark,” he said.
SUNY Cobleskill President Don Zingale spoke to the importance of a partnership between the college and downtown; Mr. Kaiser agreed that that’s something that’s only strengthening Cobleskill’s “economic engine.”