With time ticking on expiration dates for grants secured to restore the Hotchkiss Building, the pressure was on to begin construction. But design reviews lagged in state and federal agencies. And now Wayne County has lost a federal grant that was set to expire in June 2011 because it didn’t allow enough time for the work to the building, which once produced peppermint, to be done.

The restoration of a historic building is off — for now.

With time ticking on expiration dates for grants secured to restore the Hotchkiss Building, the pressure was on to begin construction. But design reviews lagged in state and federal agencies. And now Wayne County has lost a federal grant that was set to expire in June 2011 because it didn’t allow enough time for the work to the building, which once produced peppermint, to be done.

The Save America’s Treasures federal grant was the only one that would have reimbursed the county for construction management, builders’ risk insurance, the cost of some signs and the building permit. Without the federal grant, the county would have had to spend $50,000 of its own money.

At its meeting Dec. 21, the Board of Supervisors elected not to assume that financial responsibility, essentially shutting down the planned restoration.

“It’s a combination of disappointment and understanding,” said Sharon Lilla, the county planning director. “I understand the reasoning behind this. It makes fiscal sense.”

What is hard to swallow is that the restoration could have been significant historically, not only to the local area, but regionally and statewide, she said.

“It is one of the most historically significant Erie Canal-era industrial buildings left standing,” she said.

But, one resident is not ready to concede.

“I’m still optimistic,” said Pat Alena, who is known locally as Peppermint Patty for her work with the Hotchkiss Building.

Two and a half years ago, the Lyons Heritage Society, which has been giving tours of the building, and Alena’s steering committee began trying to save the building. By Jan. 7, 2010, the county had agreed to restore the Hotchkiss with grants received, then give it to the village.

Alena admits she is frustrated.

“We met every deadline and did everything the county asked,” she said. “They wanted a solution, but didn’t complete their end.”

The grant will now go somewhere else.

What the county will be left to pay is $106,000 already expended in design costs, which would have been reimbursed had the project been completed, plus termination costs.

If the board had decided to contribute the $50,000, the project would have gone forward as planned, but not without the pressure of the next grant expiration date on Dec. 31, 2011.

“If the project isn’t completed and no extension on the expiration date granted, then the county would have to pay $224,000, the amount of the expired grant,” explained Lilla, prior to the board’s vote. “There is a good possibility of grant extension if we are under construction.”

Extension for the Save America’s Treasures grant, although requested, was not allowed.

“There might be other ways to do this,” said Alena. “I’m going to work with the town supervisor and the mayor. I won’t give up on that building.”