By Kathy Daley
LIBERTY “We’re getting a total facelift inside and out, thanks to the wonderful Liberty CDC Main Street grant,” enthused Cindy Fracasse said the other day. “I’m going to have a sassy building that draws people to our block!”
Fracasse owns the popular Liberty Fitness Center at 85 North Main, the very building that Sullivan County’s own billionaire Alan Gerry once claimed as his own. Gerry ran it as a General Electric and appliance store, and told Fracasse a few years ago that the building possessed “good karma.”
“I never forgot what he said,” noted Fracasse. “And now it’s really happening.”
Fracasse is the first of 17 Liberty building owners to receive a substantial grant through the Main Street Grant Program, funded by the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal. The goal of the $500,000 project for Liberty is to encourage revitalization and economic development.
Heinrich Strauch, the LCDC’s executive director, said the agency received 27 applications for grant money. Applicants were required to submit descriptions and drawings of the work they planned for their building, photos of the building, and quotes from contractors.
The Main Street grants, which ranged from $2,000 to $50,000, were to spruce up interiors and exteriors, to fix roofs and furnaces, for electrical upgrades and energy efficiency projects, among other things.
“A committee of representatives from the town and village, and from local businesses, reviewed the applications and asked questions,” Strauch said. “We were looking for projects where we’d have confidence that the owners could pull it through and that would have the most impact on Main Street.”
The Fitness Center attracts daily customers not only to its treadmills, steppers, bicycles and weight equipment, but also to yoga and aerobic classes, Zumba lessons and line dancing.
“Cindy sees regular customers but also people coming to her special events: to kids’ activities, Halloween parties, and dance lessons by Jackie Horner,” Strauch said. “There’s a lot of ‘cross fertilization,’ with her customers getting their hair cut at the salon next door, or going across the street to Floyd and Bobo’s bakery. And Cindy has the drive and the energy and the commitment to make it work.”
Fracasse, who has owned Liberty Fitness Center for almost 10 years, signed the grant contract with the LCDC on June 3. She said she left the meeting, dashed to the Fitness Center, got out of her dress-up clothes and into her trademark jogging suit, and promptly started ordering materials.
This week, Chet Dell, a contractor from Monticello (“I’m spending my grant money in Sullivan County,” said Fracasse) laid down a new hand-cut cedar shake roof on the top part of the building and was about to begin pressure washing the brick façade in preparation for re-pointing mortar. Painting window trim, mounting a new sign and hanging a new insulated door were the next exterior tasks.
Fitness Center members will also see changes to the interior: a new paint job, new carpeting, energy efficient lighting, a new welcome desk, locker rooms and bathrooms. The construction manager is Jeremy Gorelick, who manages projects from Monticello to Manhattan.
“This comes at a great time for Cindy, as she celebrates her tenth anniversary,” Gorelick said.
Strauch of the LCDC pointed out that owners are contributing at least 25 percent to the final cost of their construction projects. Among Fracasse’s purchases are flat screen TVs and a new sauna room with special calming oils. She plans to out fit an indoor café that will refreshments like smoothies and shakes, to Fitness Center members.
The other grant recipients are owners of the following buildings: Liberty Public Library, Charlie’s Pizzeria and Restaurant (formerly Cobbler’s), Sunflower Health Food, old Fleet Bank, Eddie’s Antiques, Liberty Wine & Liquor, Golden Dragon, Catskill Artist Gallery Building, Serendipity, Liberty Museum, Liberty Theatre, Immaculate Concepts Car Detailing, Bruce’s Garage, Charles Barbuti Furniture, the Thompson building, and the building next to it, which houses a pizza place.