Hotchkiss Building restoration in Lyons is shut down, when the Wayne County Board of Supervisors elect not to contribute funds at their Dec. 21 meeting.

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.

Because the Save America’s Treasures federal grant expires in June of 2011, an unrealistic time frame for completion of the planned restoration, the county lost the grant.

This is the only grant 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 been left holding the bag, which translates to $50,000.

At their meeting Dec. 21, the Wayne County 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, planning director for the Wayne County Planning Department. “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.

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

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 federal grant, although requested, was not allowed.