Village eyes FEMA grants for projects

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Mayor Julie Eagan told the Whitehall Village Board at a special meeting on May 4 there are FEMA grants that the village can and should apply for to assist the village financially with various projects underway.

“I got a call from Miguel Martin, and he is helping people apply for some of the FEMA grants that were included in the last round of Covid money,” she said.

Martin was supposed to be present at the April 27 meeting but was unable to attend. Eagan spoke later with Martin, who said there needed to be a meeting with the board before the application process could begin.

“We scrambled around and ended up doing it by phone call and they have some programs to help,” Eagan said. ‘One that I think will be helpful. He said to me at 5:30 in the evening, if we had any projects on our list to send them to him by 7:30 the next morning,” she said.

Eagan said the program could cover generators, hazard mitigation and more. She sent the accepted bids for generators that need updating at each of the pump stations. The second pump station in the village is the only one that is different from the rest because it’s a different size.

“He said that it’s very viable that we could get that money,” she said.

FEMA will pay 90% of the cost of the project with the program and leave 10% to be covered by the village.

“We had two projects of replacing the generators and they are essentially ready to go,” she said. ‘We’ve already accepted the bids and they gave us a lot of positive feedback at the meeting.”

The other project that Eagan was interested in was to determine if the grants could help with the Poultney Street waterline project. However, it’s likely that the project won’t meet the criteria for the grant.

“I think we can move forward with an application to see if we can at least get the money to do the generators,” she said.

The program has no financial cap and Eagan discussed with the board how to approach the application process. Since Eagan wasn’t sure about the specifics of each generator, she sent the paperwork received from the bidding process until she could speak with all the board members.

“We need four generators and we’ve already sent our bids for two of them. Two remain and Clark (Wilkinson) was saying we might be able to move a pump station,” said board member Tim Watson.

The village must submit its application by June 1 and the board discussed the idea of applying for four new generators. Eagan said she believes it’s the village’s best bet to apply for the replacement of all the generators.

“The match for us is only 10% so it will free up a lot of our Covid money and it will be less of a cost to us replacing all four of them than it would be for the cost of replacing two,” she said.

As for the freed-up funds, if the village is approved by FEMA, Eagan said they would use the funds on other projects on their list that they couldn’t get to this year.

“We would probably go back to our list that we made during budget negotiations. Maybe some of it we’ll hold in reserve because the Poultney Street waterline project could be more expensive than we expected,” she said. “That’s probably the more prudent thing to do, but we have a prioritized list of what we need to do,” she said.