Potsdam moves ahead with grant to upgrade Town Hall basement

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POTSDAM — The Town Council on Tuesday enthusiastically endorsed a resolution to accompany a grant application from Councilwoman Rosemaria Rivezzi to finish the basement of the Town Hall.

“Last month the board approved me going ahead and working on the grant,” Ms. Rivezzi said. “In the meantime we got the estimate back.”

The projected cost was around $56,000 to restore the basement and create a meeting space that could be reserved by the public. The grant is distributed through the Community Development and Environmental Improvement Fund, administered by the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, and provides up to $20,000.

“Because it’s so much more than what the grant is for, do we want to go forward with it?” Ms. Rivezzi asked.

The basement of the Town Hall was intentionally built so that it could be developed into a usable space later on. Ms. Rivezzi previously said that the basement would need a wall to block off the furnace and a bathroom, but all the plumbing is already in place.

The community space upstairs is already heavily used — 270 times last year, according to the resolution. About 10 percent of the usage is business related, including mediations and out-of-town attorneys interviewing clients. The basement would provide a more private, specific area for these kinds of meetings.

“As a resident, and as someone who deals with this every day … I support it,” said Town Clerk Cindy Goliber, who handles the rentals for the community space. “And I know I don’t have a vote, but I support it.”

After some discussion, the board approved the resolution to apply for the grant. The remaining cost of the project could be covered by funds originally received as Orion Power New York payments in lieu of taxes and reserved for building projects. There is currently $383,975.85 in the account.

The resolution supporting Ms. Rivezzi’s grant application request was passed unanimously by Councilwomen Sarah L. Lister, Judy Rich and Ann M. Carvill. Town Supervisor Rollin A. Beattie was not present, but according to Ms. Goliber, he had previously announced his support for moving forward with the grant application.

In other business, Highway Superintendent John Keleher announced that he had finally purchased a dump truck box for $22,000, $2,000 more than the town board had initially authorized him to bid.

“It’s still, at this point, going to save us $16,000,” he told the board.

Ms. Rivezzi also announced that a plan for the town to pay to repave the Clarkson University tennis courts in exchange for residents being able to use the courts for tennis and pickleball has run into trouble, as the town cannot pay for work at a private institution.

“That arrangement is out,” she said.

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