MARK gets funds to be spent in Bovina

By Matthew J. Perry
A new, unexpected source of community funding was announced last Tuesday at Bovina’s Town Board meeting.
Peg Ellsworth, executive director of MARK Project, attended the meeting to announce that a Bovina resident, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has made “a generous donation” to MARK that will in turn be applied to a project approved of by the town. Ellsworth also stated that the donation would be used to leverage a matching grant.
The donor did not specify Bovina as the recipient or suggest any particular use for the funds. Ellsworth stated that it is MARK’s decision to apply such gifts to programs in the community of origin.
Preliminary discussion has focused on making Russell’s Store, on Main Street, a hub where local food and crafts could be sold and community character could be displayed. The project would focus on promotion and research as well as organizing local farmers and artisans. MARK would be responsible for writing grant applications, data collection and commissioning any necessary studies.
Ellsworth made it clear that the Bovina community would have the ultimate say on how the donation was used. “We’ll be holding public information sessions, and making sure that the community likes the project.” But board members responded with enthusiasm to the existing plan. “I think it’s a great idea that the community will be able to embrace,” said Supervisor Tina Mole.
“It would be a great move,” said Councilman Chuck McIntosh, who sits on MARK’s Board of Directors. “Local people need a venue to sell their products.”
Ellsworth mentioned the artisan’s guild in Margaretville as an example of a means to distinguish a community by what it produces. By promoting the best of what Bovina offers in an historic building, ideally the town could create an entity which “people would drive to find.”
The announcement of good news provided Ellsworth with a forum to promote a fledgling vintage base ball club that has organized in Bovina. Ellsworth, who serves as business manager for the well known Roxbury Nine club, stated that she had met with Bovina club members and was anxious to weave a new town team into a slowly expanding Delaware County circuit. The village of Fleischmanns is also home to a vintage team. Support for a local nine and the expansion of vintage base ball through Delaware County, Ellsworth argued, could provide another means for promoting the area and drawing in visitors.
When the board turned to its business, Mole dealt with the likelihood of the first increase in village water rents since 2003. The town’s water system services only 59 customers, and the fees charged to those households are the sole source of funding for the system.
“Right now, what we’re charging does not cover the bills,” Mole said. She stated that the town had run a $3,500 deficit in operation costs in 2008, and had carried over debt from prior years as well. The situation may well be exacerbated by clean-up recommendations from the Department of Health, which in a December inspection found high levels of trihalomethanes in the system.
“I don’t foresee this getting better,” Mole said. The board will not take any action on the matter until after a public hearing, which will likely be held in March. She stated that public funds likely could not provide any relief. “I haven’t found any grants available for the operation of municipal water systems.”
The board took no further action on its plans to replace the town highway garage, although Mole announced that a second engineering assessment of the project would be sought before the plans would be submitted to an architect.