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Youth center in future?

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — January 8, 2010 — The Youth Alliance Committee (YAC) suddenly gained momentum Monday in its quest for a youth center.
“We just want the support of the community and the board,” said YAC Vice Chair Rodney Clark at the Monticello Village Board meeting.
Mayor Gordon Jenkins had already said he’d personally contribute $5,000 to a youth center if construction gets underway, but it may be renovations instead.
“The village has just acquired a building right in town,” said Deputy Mayor TC Hutchins, “the old Ingber Law building, right next to Key Bank [on Broadway].”
However, the village does not own that property, and on Friday, Hutchins recanted that statement, saying he misunderstood information provided to him.
During Monday's meeting, Trustee Vic Marinello offered the village courthouse next to the village hall as a possible location.
“Now the board is talking!” cheered Deb Mack, whose similarly youth-oriented group, Community Progressive Response (CPR), is in cooperative talks with YAC.
Trustee Scott Schoonmaker also had the idea to offer incentives to landlords who would be willing to work with the village to create a youth center.
YAC members were jubilant, especially after some tense moments where they were reminded that Monticello’s government and community are of extremely limited means these days.
“Everybody’s having a hard time,” said local businessman Sean Rieber. “... Nobody’s writing $5,000 or $10,000 checks unless they’re getting a tax writeoff.”
YAC is not yet an official nonprofit, but its stated aim is to partner with existing youth-oriented agencies and nonprofits to offer a cohesive and comprehensive program to keep kids out of trouble.
YAC Chairman Florencio Torres, who grew up in Monticello, said the village nevertheless needs – and can afford – a youth center, which he estimated could be built from the ground up for $175,000.
Trustee Carmen Rue hoped the group would work with existing organizations, which Torres promised it would, envisioning a youth center open to all.
Jenkins said the matter would be discussed further at a public worksession tonight (Friday) at 6 p.m. at the village hall.
County billed by village
Also to be discussed tonight is striking a new agreement with the county to handle leachate from the landfill.
In exchange for the village’s treatment of its leachate, the county used to accept the village’s sludge at the landfill, but the landfill is now officially closed – yet still creating leachate treated by the village.
“We’re now trucking our sludge away,” Hutchins pointed out.
Village Manager Ray Nargizian said the county has already been sent a $43,000 bill for the leachate treatment, which he expects will balloon to $80,000 a month when all costs are factored in.
Whether or not the village will be reimbursed by the county remains to be seen, and trustees are expected to talk about a new agreement tonight.
pass resolution
Rue once again introduced a resolution to slightly change wording in the July 2009 resolution which hired Nargizian.
This time, Rue was not interrupted while she read the entire resolution, drafted by the attorney representing her, Schoonmaker and Marinello in their defense against Jenkins’ lawsuit. (Hutchins has his own legal representation.)
She came under fire from Hutchins and resident Tom Mack for the resolution, but Marinello, Schoonmaker and she approved it, with the hope that it will render moot one of Jenkins’ contentions that Nargizian’s hiring was illegal.
“It seems like somebody is trying to clean something up,” fumed Hutchins.
“It just corrects two words [in the original resolution],” Rue explained.
Talking grants
Jenkins announced that the director of the state’s Office of Community Renewal, Gail Hammond, will be coming to Monticello to meet with village officials on January 11 at 1 p.m.
“That’s about the grants in the village,” he said, referencing already-used state and federal grants that need a final signature from Jenkins to close them out – a signature he has yet to provide, citing a lack of information.
In the meantime, Monticello continues to look for more grant funding. Calling village hall “the biggest embarrassment in the village,” Jenkins again pushed for $1.2 million in renovations.
He, Nargizian, Hutchins and Police Chief Doug Solomon are headed to Long Island’s Amityville to see how that municipality used “green” grants and innovative methods to rehab its buildings.
Marinello said leaders shouldn’t forget about rehabbing the village courthouse next door, as well, though there was some concern expressed about obtaining grants for such projects, which has so far been problematic.
About $15,000 is budgeted for work on village hall, although Nargizian said some of that has already been used to redo three bathrooms in the police department.
Later in the meeting, Jenkins and Hutchins bemoaned the fact that the village doesn’t have a dedicated grantwriter, but Nargizian said he and his staff continually look into grants. When an application needs to be written, Nargizian explained that he goes to the county or village-contracted firms (Camoin Associates or Barton and LoGuidice).
Resident Nate Gilmore, who is leading a Sullivan Renaissance effort to beautify gateway areas to the village, urged officials not to bicker about grantwriting but instead make sure they meet application deadlines and guidelines.

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