State Money for Senior Center?

Renovation grants far from assured

By Holly Crocco

In 2015 state Sen. Sue Serino and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef pledged to back efforts by Putnam County to obtain $500,000 in state grants to renovate the Cold Spring Senior Center now under construction at the Butterfield redevelopment.

But the county still needed to apply.

When presenting a draft county budget in 2015, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell noted Serino and Galef were pursuing state funds for the senior center. But that same month, Galef said the assembly and Dormitory Authority, which would provide the grants, would need more details.

By August 2016, after a $500,000 pledge from Roger and Elizabeth Ailes for the $1.3 million center evaporated, legislators passed a $800,000 bond and said the remainder would come from the $500,000 in state grants.

A year later, at its Sept. 5 meeting, the county Legislature approved sending two grant requests to the Dormitory Authority. One $250,000 grant has been endorsed by Serino (R-Hyde Park), and the other $250,000 grant by Galef (D-Ossining).

Specifics about how the money would be spent will be provided if the applications advance, Deputy Planning Commissioner Sandra Fusco told the legislature. In August, at a meeting of its Physical Services Committee, she said the request for now was simply for “renovations and repairs to existing structures.”

While lawmakers approved the applications, Fusco expressed doubt about whether the county would see the funds any time soon, if ever.

“I have yet to see a single SAM [State and Municipal] grant come to completion,” said Fusco. “It does not happen quickly; it’s a very slow process.”

She explained that while Serino and Galef had pledged support, the funds are tied to the state budget. As priorities  change in Albany, so does the availability of funds for projects such as the senior center.

Legislator Carl Albano (R-Carmel) said it was still worth pursuing. “If we get half, or some, or a third, that’s all we can do,” he said.

2 thoughts on “State Money for Senior Center?

  1. As the state Senate and Assembly sponsors of individual State and Municipal Facilities (SAM) grants for the county Senior Center at the Butterfield site, we enthusiastically offer our support for the project, as it fulfills a critical need in the community.

    However, as was shared with Putnam County officials from the outset, the state and municipal grant process is a lengthy procedure in which the Dormitory Authority performs many checks to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent correctly by the grant recipient. The process is designed to prevent misuse of state funds, and is incredibly thorough.

    We expect the county will meet its fiduciary responsibilities to qualify for these grants and as such, the Senior Center will ultimately receive SAM funding. To further clarify, these grants are not tied to the state’s budget proceedings, and are to be dispersed upon receipt and approval by the Dormitory Authority, Senate and Assembly.

    We look forward to the completion of the Senior Center, which will provide a wonderful new opportunity for Philipstown seniors. As always, if you have any questions, please contact Assemblywoman Galef at 914-941-1111 or Sen. Serino at 845-229-0106.