Shandaken considering new sidewalks for its portion of Smart Growth funding

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The Shandaken Town Board is looking for ideas on how to use their share of $88,000 in state grants. The details surrounding a $500,000 pot of gold are sketchy, said Supervisor Peter DiSclafani Monday night, but right now it looks like the state has earmarked that amount to fund projects along the Route 28 corridor between Olive and Andes. The fund could be divided up between all the communities along that substantial stretch of highway, with each guaranteed a minimum of $42,000 and up to $88,000.
But, DiSclafani said, there may be an opportunity to fund one or more larger projects that would benefit the entire region. In other words, instead of chopping up the fund in tiny amounts and spreading it out through Andes, Middletown, Shandaken and Olive and the villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville, the leadership of those communities could opt to put the funds into a project that would accomplish the goals of the grant.
According to a resolution passed unanimously by the town board Monday, drafted by The Catskill Center of Conservation and Devel-opment, New York State Route 28 is the major thoroughfare of the Central Catskill Mountains offering the traveler a unique experience of mountain scenery and clear waterways, complemented by historic hamlets –– and it is the combination of resources that gives the region much of its scenic and community character and is vital to the region’s economy. Since Route 28 passes through the heart of Catskill Park and because much of the land in the Central Catskills lies in the New York City Watershed and provides unfiltered drinking water to some nine million New Yorkers, the state has committed to providing the fund for a Central Catskill Mountains Smart Growth Program to support improvement projects that retain the vibrancy of the hamlets, villages, and town centers along the Route 28 Corridor.
The Catskill Center has offered its services to help the communities discover how best to use the funds, and on Monday the Shandaken Town Board agreed to take the non-profit organization up on the offer, but DiSclafani noted that his town is still looking at specific plans within its own borders.
“We’re thinking sidewalks…places all over town need sidewalks,” he said.
DiSclafani said he was aware that other communities, like Andes, are looking for ways to use the funds. He also said the leadership of all the communities would benefit from some clarification on what the rules of grant are.
“This collaborative (with the Catskill Center) may be making things confusing,” he said. “It’s difficult to get all these communities to agree on one project.”
Right now it appears that the fund will be used for what DiSclafani called “bricks and mortar projects.”