JAMESTOWN – U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was in Jamestown Monday morning to use the National Comedy Center as a backdrop for her announcement of more federal funding for the federal historic preservation grant program.
Gillibrand said federal funding for the Department of Interior’s Historic Preservation Fund for the 2019 fiscal year has been increased to $88.9 million and is significantly hiring that the Trump administration’s original projected budget of $32.7 million.
“When the Trump Administration released its budget for this year, their request for historic preservation funding was millions of dollars lower than it had been before. It would have been a huge mistake to cut that funding from our historic sights as economic development projects across our state,” Gillibrand explained. “So I lead a bipartisan letter with my colleagues to keep that funding in place and we were so successful that we actually ended up with $56 million more than the president had requested,” Gillibrand Said.
The senator also explained that while only a couple million dollars of the funding will make its way to projects across New York State, it remains crucial because it can be used to help leverage development funding from other public and private sources.
Jamestown Development Director Vince DeJoy was also on hand for the announcement and afterward he explained to WRFA why the funding is so important for city’s like Jamestown.
“We have a great deal of historic buildings in Jamestown that are iconic, but have remained vacant or fallow. They are basically not collecting very much in property taxes because of the condition that they are in, and now we have a new energy with developers wanting to rehabilitate these building through adaptive reuse and bring a new life to these buildings, which will help to increase our property tax base,” DeJoy said, also noting that Jamestown has an entire historic district within the downtown in order to have better chances of applying for and receiving federal historic preservation money.
Gillibrand used the National Comedy Center as a backdrop because it used over $2 million in historic preservation money as part of the restoration of the Erlie-Lackawanna Train Station, which is now part of the NCC.
In addition to the Train Station restoration, DeJoy said several other projects in Jamestown have also benefited from the program, including both the former M&T Bank and Key Bank Buildings on Main Street, as well as the former Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center, which is now being converted into Jamestown Brewing Co.