HUDSON — Columbia County is looking at the potential of a new kitchen for the Office for the Aging.

The Columbia County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Wednesday to discuss submission of a Community Development Block Grant application under the Cares Act Program for the 2021 year. This round of funding is restricted to projects that directly respond to COVID-19.

“There’s $60 million for this program, $30 million is allocated to non-entitlement communities of which Columbia County is one,” grant consultant Bill Roehr said. “The limit for Columbia County is $1 million.”

The potential grant money would help partially underwrite the costs of a new kitchen for the Office for the Aging, Roehr said.

“During the pandemic it became clear that there was insufficient capacity,” Roehr said. “Just to give you an idea of the home delivered meals, and the way that has increased, in 2018 it was 35,000 meals, in 2020 it was up to 66,000 and if I project throughout this year, we’re going to come up with about 64,000 home delivered meals. So that’s over 80%.”

The estimated cost of a new kitchen is between $1.5 million and $2 million for construction and between $400,000 and $500,000 for kitchen equipment, according to the proposed project description.

The estimated costs are subject to refinement, Roehr said. By the time the application is submitted at the end of the month the numbers will be much tighter.

Roehr said additional funding for the project will be sought from the USDA Rural Utility Services as they often participate in CDBG projects. Funding is also sought from some foundations he said.

“The project is to be located in the Simmons Industrial Park,” Roehr said. “The kitchen, as it now stands, will be attached to a relocated OFA office complex. But the funding request through housing and community renewal is separate and distinct from the rest of the project, and is limited strictly to the construction of the kitchen facility and the equipment.”

Columbia County owns 10 acres in Commerce Park, where the county’s fire training facility is located, Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ron Knott said.

“It’s my hope that there’s enough room left in that 10 acres beyond what the fire training people are using,” Knott said. “That we could construct a new building that would house both the OFA kitchen as well as potentially office space from the people that are in 325 Columbia Street now. That’s why we’ve brought on a consultant.”

The full project, including the $1.5-$2 million for the kitchen would cost about $5 million roughly Knott said.

The Board of Supervisors, in their discussion about ARPA funding, tentatively set aside $1 million for the project, Board Chairman Matt Murell said.

“There are other funding streams that will be going into this as Mr. Roehr had said,” Murell said. “We also have had discussions with private foundations who have an interest. So I think raising the money won’t be as hard as people have anticipated.”

Murell said the public hearing allows the door to be open for the county to apply for the grant money but it does not mean the county is committed to doing anything.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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