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At their April 16 monthly meeting, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors granted $20,000 to the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County part of a Community Development Plan to promote tourism and other economic benefits in Saratoga County.
Specific projects being targeted are the Brookside Museum education program in Ballston Spa and the rehabilitation of the old passenger rail station in Mechanicville, a project that has already begun.
According to chamber president Peter Bardunias, the grant marks the first time the chamber has received funding from the county.
The new grant is especially pleasing to Halfmoon Supervisor Mindy Wormuth.
“Halfmoon is the fastest growing community in Saratoga County,” Wormuth said. “It’s good we’re telling the story in the southern part of the county.”
Chairman Alan Grattidge agreed.
“These projects look like worthwhile projects,” he said. “We look forward to a good working relationship with the chamber.”
For his part, Bardunias couldn’t be more excited.
“This will help us to do a better job administering the program and will make a direct impact on local communities,” he said.
Bardunias said the money will be used as seed money for the chamber to facilitate the two projects. “We will be focusing on Brookside and the Mechanicville train station,” he said.
The chamber will also be helping to promote the Ballston 225 celebration, Bardunias said. “We will be promoting it and bringing in volunteers for the event,” he said.
Bardunias expressed gratitude to the county supervisors for the grant.
“We appreciate the confidence that Saratoga County is putting in us,” Bardunias said. “We know that dollars are tight.”
For the Mechanicville train station project, Bardunias said the chamber would be providing support for the project that is already under way.
According to a report published by the chamber, the project was picked because Mechanicville represents a part of Saratoga County with vast economic economic promise. GLOBALFOUNDRIES and the Hudson River are close by.
With the restoration of the train station, there would be opportunities for other businesses such as coffee shops, which would attract business from the visitors of the train station, Bardunias said. The station will also house a museum.
The report also said the Brookside Museum project made sense because, as the county’s historical museum, it houses the genealogies of early Saratoga settlers, and it is a historic treasure offering a glimpse into the factors which have made Saratoga County vital to New York State for the past 200 years.
The report further stated that the project will:
• Improve the station’s structural soundness and viability as a meeting venue
• Engage corporate partners who are seeking volunteer opportunities
• Involve educational institutions (e.g. Ballston Spa Central School District)
• Develop a plan to collect genealogies of modern residents/immigrants to Saratoga County
• Seek to involve new residents in Saratoga Coounty and help them assimilate into the community
• Partner with the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association where possible
Also on the horizon for the chamber is to hold town business meetings. According to Bardunias, the idea grew out of recent meetings the chamber had with businesses in Waterford to help them promote themselves.
“They had never really worked together to advertise as a unit to the tourists that come to Canal Days,” Bardunias said. “We will be helping them to do that.”
Bardunias said the town business meetings will provide forums for local business; engage “main street” independent, family owned businesses; develop a “to do” list for the chamber; provide opportunities for feedback to government officials and partner with local businesses where possible.
“The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County has embarked on an initiative to bring together local business owners and nearby corporate partners to make a tangible difference in each of our 15 municipalities,” Bardunias said. “These new programs will be the icing on the cake.”
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