SCHUMER: TOWN OF KINGSBURY SEWER SYSTEM DOES NOT EXTEND TO LOCAL COMMERCIAL DISTRICT, FORCING STORES TO CLOSE & DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS TO BE PUT ON HOLD; TOWN IN DESPERATE NEED OF FUNDS TO EXPAND SEWER, BUT THEY HAVE BEEN CUT OFF FROM FED PROGRAMS SENATOR PUSHES NEW PLAN TO ACCESS FUNDS TO EXPAND KINGSBURY SEWER, SPUR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT & CREATE JOBS
Town of Kingsburys Sewer System Does Not Extend to Main Commercial District Along Route 32, Which Is Holding Back Local Development Efforts & Has Forced Stores To Close Town is Looking to Expand Sewer System To Include Commercial District, But Is Unable To Receive Funds It Needs from USDA Due To Its Population Being Too Large for Rural Status Schumer Pushes New White House Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund To Prioritize Projects In Towns Like Kingsbury That Are Cut Off From
Today, at Kingsbury Town Hall in Hudson Falls, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his push to secure funding that will help the Town of Kingsbury begin a critical expansion of its sewer system to include the town's commercial district along Route 32. Currently, Kingsbury's sewer system does not reach the main commercial corridor, and businesses in that area are forced to use septic systems or smaller sewage lines that are much more expensive than the main Kingsbury lines. This has slowed development projects in the area and forced at least one store to close. Ordinarily, a rural town like Kingsbury would be eligible for USDA rural development funds to help them undertake a large sewer expansion, but Kingsbury is one of a handful of rural towns in New York State that are unfairly cut off from accessing these USDA funds since the town is not technically considered rural due to having a population over 10,000. Schumer said that the White House has created a new fund, called the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, which has brought together private investors to invest in rural infrastructure projects. Schumer urged the USDA and the private investors involved in the fund to prioritize infrastructure projects in communities like Kingsbury, who are cut off from USDA's rural development funds due to population limits despite being rural in character, and he specifically called on USDA and CoBank, the fund's anchor investor, to meet with Kingsbury officials to discuss the sewer expansion.
"There is so much potential for economic development right here in the Town of Kingsbury that has remained untapped because of a lack of sufficient sewer infrastructure, and it is time for that to change," said Schumer. "There is a simple solution, and it is something that the town is willing to do - extend the Town's main sewer lines to the commercial corridor along Route 32. It just needs to find the funding to make the project a reality, but unfortunately it has been cut off from one its main potential funding sources, USDA rural development funds, due to its population being too large. But there is a new USDAsupported rural infrastructure fund that could be a great avenue for the Town to access the funding it needs, and I am calling on the White USDA and the private investors involved in the fund to meet with Kingsbury officials to determine what can be done to get this project underway, and to prioritize projects in towns like Kingsbury that are cut off from traditional federal funding streams."
Kingsbury's commercial district is centered on State Route 32, however, even though it is a main commercial hub, the area is not part of Washington County's Sewer District #2, which serves the majority of Kingsbury. Rather, residents and businesses located along Route 32 are either forced to use private septic systems or one of the four small "outofdistrict" sewage lines, which are very expensive.
This lack of adequate sewer infrastructure has significantly hindered development in the commercial corridor. Specifically, it has forced at least one store - a laundromat - out of business and stalled many other development projects in the area. For example, according to the Town, there is one local restaurant in the area that wishes to expand, as well as numerous other businesses that would like to take over vacant storefronts, however these businesses are finding that expanding or relocating is not economically viable if the area is not part of the Town's main sewer district. Additionally, there are two proposed mixed residential and commercial developments, which would add a combined 300 units to the Town, that are currently on hold due to this sewer issue, further stalling economic development.
Schumer said that many of these economic development projects could get underway if the commercial corridor were linked to the Town's primary sewer district. The Town of Kingsbury currently has plans in place to expand its main sewer district - Sewer District #2 - to include the commercial corridor but, like many rural towns on a tight budget, it is unable to shoulder the costs. Rural towns like Kingsbury would ordinarily be able to apply for funds for this type of infrastructure project through the USDA's rural development program, but, in Kingsbury's case, its population is too large for it to be eligible. The Town has nearly 12,000 people, which puts it just over the 10,000person population limit that a town needs to be under in order to be considered "rural" by the USDA to access wastewater infrastructure loans and grants.
Schumer said that this strict population cutoff unfairly impacts Kingsbury and many upstate towns like it by putting critical rural development funds out of reach. Schumer, however, pointed to a new potential funding stream for Kingsbury and other towns like it to undertake major rural infrastructure projects, the recentlycreated White House Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund. This fund is supported by private capital, and investors will work with the USDA to invest in jobcreating rural infrastructure projects across the country. Most importantly for Kingsbury, this fund does not have any sort of population limit to be eligible, and Schumer said that this fund could be the perfect avenue for Kingsbury and other towns that are rural in nature, but not technically rural according to USDA standards, to access the capital they need to undertake major infrastructure projects.
Therefore, Schumer is urging the USDA and the private investors involved in the fund to prioritize projects in towns like Kingsbury that are cut off from traditional USDA rural development funds. He is also urging those involved in the Fund to specifically consider the sewer expansion in Kingsbury for funding, and he is asking the USDA and CoBank - the lead bank in the fund - to meet with Kingsbury officials to discuss the sewer expansion and discuss funding options. In Kingsbury's case, their sewer expansion is estimated to cost approximately $25 million, with $5$10 million needed for phase 1, which will connect the commercial district to the main Kingsbury sewer lines. A loan through the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund would allow Kingsbury to get this project underway, which it is ready to do within the year, and pay back the costs over time at a reasonable rate.
Schumer was joined by James Lindsay, Supervisor for the Town of Kingsbury; Mitch Suprenant, Supervisor for the Town of Fort Edward; Joe Brilling Executive Director of Washington County Sewer District #2; Matt Fuller, ESQ, Counsel for the Town of Kingsbury.
"We have been looking to extend our sewer into our commercial district for quite some time in order to stimulate economic development and job growth, but our size has prohibited us from accessing traditional federal funding programs," said James Lindsay, Supervisor for the Town of Kingsbury. "This new fund looks like it could be a great avenue for us to finally get our sewer expansion underway, and I greatly appreciate Senator Schumer's efforts to get this project moving forward."
The new Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund is a private fund that is anchored by CoBank, a national cooperative bank, and managed by Capitol Peek Asset Management, which will work to recruit additional private companies to participate in the investment fund. The goal of this fund is to provide rural towns and communities with access to private capital to undertake major infrastructure projects that are traditionally hard to fund. This fund will complement the USDA's continual efforts to identify potential investment opportunities in rural towns and communities for publicprivate partnerships to fund. While the USDA will not contribute capital to this fund, the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund is meant to become yet another tool that allows the USDA to match potential investors with rural projects in communities that need funding.
A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the USDA appears below:
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
I am writing you today to urge you to utilize the newly announced U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund to assist communities that have long been ineligible for USDA Rural Development Funds due to strict population limits. Many rural communities across New York State have significant infrastructure needs, but do not have access to USDA grants and loans for infrastructure because of program limitations. I encourage you to employ the resources of the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund to provide capital for this unique group of rural communities that have for too long have not had access to traditional USDA funding.
As you know, the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund is a privately capitalized fund structured to complement existing USDA rural development programs. This new and creative approach offers a fresh source of funding for rural infrastructure projects such as water and wastewater systems, energy projects, hospitals, schools, and broadband. It is critical that USDA uses its vast network and existing relationships with rural communities across rural New York to identify and bring together private investors and communities that have in the past not been able to access USDA's existing rural infrastructure programs.
As Rural America continues to transform in order to meet the needs of a twenty first century economy, it is critical that progress is not inhibited by inadequate infrastructure. For example, in New York over sixty rural communities with populations under fifty thousand are ineligible to apply for USDA's Water and Waste Disposal Loans, Loan Guarantees or the Community Facilities Loans, Loan Guarantees, and Grants programs due to population limits. Innovative businesses in these rural communities are seeking to make investments in industries that feed America and drive our biobased economy, but cannot do so without adequate infrastructure.
I commend you on your innovative efforts to expand access to capital for rural communities across the country, however I encourage you to take this unique opportunity to bridge the funding gap for many of our nation's rural communities that fall outside of USDA's current rural infrastructure programs. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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