By Nathan Mayberg
LIBERTY March 5, 2004 A not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization may be created by the Village and Town of Liberty to aid in its economic development.
That was the focus of a joint town and village board meeting Wednesday night in Liberty.
The Community Development Corporation, as it would be called, would work full-time on the behalf of advancing the economic vitality of Liberty.
Students and faculty from Cornell University have been working with community leaders on the Liberty Economic Action Project (LEAP). Leaders of this project hope that a private organization with full-time employees devoted strictly to economic development could accomplish more than government employees and private citizens who cannot devote enough time to work on economic recovery.
The majority of the town and village board members loved the idea. Only one problem remained: money.
Ken Reardon, one of the coordinators for the project, suggested that the money would largely be found in grants from national religious organizations and other corporations wishing to give away tax-deductible money.
During his presentation, Reardon estimated the cost of the CDC to be no more than $150,000. However, in the packet passed out, the operating budget is expected to be between $250,000 and $400,000. These costs include the housing and economic development programs, a full-time executive director, an administrative assistant, and an additional five to seven employees.
None of the board members were certain if that amount of money could be obtained, agreeing that their own governments were financially strapped. Even so, they wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorsed the idea.
Town of Liberty Supervisor Frank DeMayo said, "We deserve the best. . . . This is the beginning of something great."
DeMayo added, "I like the idea of having somebody there 24/7. . . . We have a lot of good ideas but nobody to bring them into fruition."
Village of Liberty board members Allan Berube and Christopher Gozza were also enthusiastic.
Said Gozza, "I thought [the presentation] was excellent. Finally weve been talking about this forever. It is extremely positive for the village.
Thus far, LEAP has two main ideas for Liberty. The first is to begin the CDC, which could encourage housing rehabilitation and development, youth employment and skills training, and an economic action plan.
The second goal is to create or enhance a local park. Cornell University students and faculty have been meeting with several dozen local youth in order to come up with proposals to create a new park or enhance the existing one. The features of the park would include an area for in-line skating, skateboarding, bicycle riding, or a track for walking.
According to Gozza, this was the first joint meeting of the full town and village boards in about seven years.