Van Buren pursues parks grant

Van Buren Park may soon see new bathroom facilities, improved drainage and more thanks to an EPF grant through New York State that the town is pursuing.

According to Town Engineer Jim Billings, the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is offering funds to municipalities for park development and historical restoration projects. Billings initially suggested pursuing these funds to clean up the Old Erie Canal in Memphis. However, after attending a workshop regarding the available grants, he discovered the town had little chance of obtaining a grant for historical purposes.

"We submitted a similar application several years ago, which did not get funded, reportedly because of the competitive nature of these applications, which typically go toward restoration of historic buildings in downtown settings," Billings stated in a letter to the town board. "My subsequent discussion with them at the workshop leads me to believe that we probably wouldn't get funded this time around either (there are more significant projects out there)."

Billings said the board was more likely to obtain funds under the state's Parks Development Program, which is intended to preserve or expand uses for parks, recreation or conservation purposes. He suggested the board pursue the grant to help fund projects currently on the town's five-year parks and recreation plan for 2010 and 2011. The projects include construction of a new bathroom facility on the east side of the park near the ball fields; installation of water, power and septic systems within the new facility; and improvements to the parking area and drainage around the ball fields.

The town board approved a motion to pursue the 50 percent match grant, which had an application deadline of June 30. Officials are seeking $100,000 in funds, which the town will match if awarded the funds. Although limited, the town could use some in-kind services towards its $100,000 match. For example, the Van Buren Highway Department could do some work rather than bidding a project out.

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