A view of the Liberty Town Hall. According to Barbuti, the porch suffers from overall instability, sagging roof, crumbling cornice.
Liberty to retry for Town Hall rehab grant
Story by Eli Ruiz
LIBERTY July 30, 2013 Much needed repairs and improvements to the Town Hall have become, according to Supervisor Charlie Barbuti, “an emergency situation.”
The former Keller Family home, located at 120 North Main Street, and built around the 1840s, has needed repairs and upgrades to its roof, gutters and drainage system for some time now.
But most pressing is the water infiltration issue that has been plaguing the structure for several years and has led to the buildup of mold in the building’s basement; the same basement the town board hosts its monthly board meeting in.
“It’s not neglect, it’s more that we just never had the funds to do the many repairs,” said Barbuti. “It’s come to a head now, though, and its now become more of an emergency than anything else… it needs to be fixed.”
Toward that end, last July, Barbuti and Liberty Community Development Corporation (CDC) head Heinrich Strauch took a shot at obtaining through the mandated Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) a New York State Department of Parks and Historic Preservation grant to cover the proposed repairs and upgrades at an estimated cost of around $500,000. Unfortunately the town’s 2012 application was “unsuccessful,” as Barbuti put it.
Not to be thwarted, Barbuti and Strauch have teamed up once again, and the pair are hoping this year’s application garners a positive response from the state.
Several years ago the town set up a capital fund expressly for “building improvements,” but the approximately $125,000 of taxpayer dollars in the fund just aren’t enough the cover all of the costs.
Curious as to why the town’s 2012 application was denied, Barbuti reached out to the NYS Department of Parks and Historic Preservation. Barbuti was told that the application was indeed complete and accurate, but fell short in just one all-important aspect: community support.
Barbuti, through research of his own, believes that another issue regarding the 2012 application was the fact that very few historic preservation projects were even funded by the state last year.
“I’ve only found one state funded historic preservation project for 2012. The vast majority of these grants went to park projects last year,” he said.
Determined to garner strong support from Liberty residents, Barbuti recently turned to social networking, appealing to the community through his Facebook page and received some positive responses.
Barbuti stressed the importance of the municipal building to the town, noting, “Town Hall drives traffic to the area, it provides jobs for people and a host of other positives, so this is very important to me and should be so to our residents.”
Never one to let things go undone, Barbuti has been addressing some of the Town Hall’s issues piecemeal.
“I’ve got someone up on the roof right now working on a small portion of it that’s leaking, he affirmed in an interview with the Democrat.
Barbuti is reaching out and hoping that more Liberty residents take up his cause through letters, emails, petitions, and even Facebook posts.”
With an August 12 deadline to submit the application looming, Barbuti asks that all correspondence be mailed to 120 North Main Street, Liberty, N.Y. 12754, or letters can be dropped off in person at Town Hall. Emails can be directed to Town Clerk Laurie Dutcher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posts to Barbuti’s Facebook page are also welcomed.
“The immediacy and importance of this grant have to be imparted on folks,” says Barbuti. “I really need the community support part of the picture ready when we submit.”
“I’m working with Charlie on this and support him fully,” said Strauch. “Not only are these repairs long-needed and essential, but I think it’s critical to have Town Hall in the best possible shape, especially since it wasn’t constructed for what it’s currently being used for.”
“The Town Hall is a sort of calling card for the community, affecting visitors’ impressions of Liberty and the people Town Hall represents,” he added. “A safe, great looking Town Hall sets a standard for the community.”