NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – At the July meeting of the Niskayuna Town Board on Tuesday, July 26, Town Supervisor Jaime Puccioni introduced resolutions that would pave the way to accepting $250,000 in grant funding for improvements to the town’s parks. Puccioni also laid the framework for accepting $25,000 in funding for programs directed to seniors and children.
“One of the first actions I took as Supervisor was to inventory all of the aging facilities in the Town, get rough estimates for repairs and start making priority lists so that we can target our efforts to attract funding,” explained Puccioni. “After that, I looked at our current pipeline of grant funding and explored ways to stretch it further.”
The Supervisor says that growing up ”resource poor” taught her how to research, prioritize and pinch pennies. “I looked at all of our grants, talked to our partner, Assemblymember Phil Steck and got to work revising grant applications and applying for new grants.”
Assemblymember Steck is very supportive of Supervisor Puccioni’s approach to grants and projects. “Supervisor Puccioni has come into office of the Town Supervisor with a very clear vision of how to preserve, protect and enhance the Town’s resources and facilities. I stand with her, ready to assist wherever possible. The two grants accepted by the Niskayuna Town Board this evening are only the beginning of our collaboration.”
One resolution accepts a $250,000 grant that was restructured by Puccioni to fund three high-priority projects. “The courts at Avon Crest were a pressing concern beginning in my first months in office as the Town Supervisor. Not only are they needed to keep residents active and healthy, but we are constantly working to attract new employers to the town and protect property values. It is critical that we avoid closed and chained facilities. I am thankful that we have a partner in Assemblymember Steck. He understands these issues and fights for funding.”
Paul Olson, one of about 150 members of the Mohawk Pickleball Club was dismayed early this spring when he learned that the pickleball and tennis courts at Avon Crest Park would be chained and locked. “It’s true that the courts had big cracks and the poles were pulling up from the ground, so I understand the safety issues, but at the same time we really don’t have anywhere else to play,” said Olson.
“I was cautiously optimistic when I talked with Supervisor Puccioni about the state of the facility at Avon Crest.” added Olson, “She’s an athlete and appreciates how many folks rely on these pickle ball games to stay competitive and fit. We stayed in touch and I’m cautiously optimistic about these results.”
Nanette Hay, an avid tennis player is also happy to hear that the courts will be bulldozed and re-built. “We are always looking for local places to play tennis,” commented Nanette, who is also on the board of the Niskayuna Women’s Tennis Association. “The courts at Avon Crest were not safe before, and frankly, because of that, I was happy to see the chains go up. Now with a grant paying for new courts, I’ll be excited play at Avon Crest again.”
Town Board member and chairperson of the Public Works Committee, Bill McPartlon assisted Supervisor Puccioni with institutional knowledge and facilities information. “I’m happy to have helped secure this funding and plan these improvements,” said McPartlon. “We’re keeping an eye on inflation and planning ahead for supply chain issues, but I think this is going to work out great for our residents and property values.”
Puccioni says that in addition to the tennis and pickleball court renovation, the $250,000 grant will also fund a project needed to improve the drainage at the Babe Ruth Baseball Field. The grant will also pay for the addition of a small dog park at the Niskayuna Dog Park.
The supervisor also offered a resolution to accept the award of a separate, $25,000 grant that she wrote in collaboration with the Director of Community Programs, Lori Peretti. This second grant is funded by the Department of Child and Family Services in partnership with Assemblymember Phil Steck’s Office.
Puccioni reports that the funds will be used to provide additional senior center events focused on cultural engagement and art classes, as well as community programming to support movie nights, free level one swimming lessons for 60 children who have not learned how to swim, and the purchase of snowshoes for residents to use for local guided hikes during wintertime. The grant will also provide West Mountain Ski Club passes for 10 children.