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Plattsburgh Common Council approves loan program to help businesses affected by downtown street reconstruction project

The Plattsburgh Common Council meets on September 21, 2023
Pat Bradley
The Plattsburgh Common Council meets on September 21, 2023

The Plattsburgh Common Council meeting Thursday evening was more sedate than some recent ones. The only item that might have garnered debate was removed before the meeting started.

The common council blazed through a number of boilerplate items including approval of street closures for upcoming Pride and high school homecoming parades and contracts for city work.

During public comments, Steve Brodi, who owns three businesses along Margaret Street: Furniture and Décor, Furniture and Décor Two and the Antique and Variety Mall, thanked councilors for considering a proposed zero interest loan program targeting businesses directly impacted by the Margaret Street Reconstruction project.

“I want to thank the city and the Council for considering these emergency loans through the Community Development Office and that the downtown businesses will really appreciate it. Nice to see that the counselors are taking that into consideration and doing it. You might want to add an extra hand to the Community Development Office because they're going to be very busy I have a feeling.”

Councilors approved the Impacted Business Revolving Loan Fund with only Mayor Chris Rosenquest commenting before its unanimous passage.

“Certainly we're coming up to the end of our project on Margaret Street. I certainly want to thank all the businesses for all of their patience and understanding and frustration. I appreciate them for that too. The design of this program, a lot of the reason why it's designed the way it is, is from community engagement is from going out door to door and getting information from the businesses, quantifiable information, on how we could help.”

Brodi says the loan program could help businesses offset some losses that have been incurred during the construction project.

“Almost everybody's interested in exploring the options. It still waits to be seen if you wish to go into the additional debt or not. We've experienced about a 33% drop. The effect has actually been worse than that of COVID on us. The fact that the funds are available, I believe it's for three years interest free, should be able to assist you and hopefully you can pay it back within the three years. Meanwhile, it can help offset some of the losses and you won’t have to tighten your belt so much and let people off from work and so forth and reduce your overhead.”

The Impacted Business Revolving Loan Fund is a subprogram of the city’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund. Rosenquest, a Democrat, says it will provide up to $30,000 to businesses affected by repaving and infrastructure upgrades in the downtown area.

“The folks on Margaret Street that are impacted by the construction, the folks on Brinkerhoff, Court Street, Marion and Clinton Streets who are really in direct line of that construction project. It is a no interest loan. So folks who want to borrow an X amount of dollars, all they’ve got to do is pay back the principal. There's a one-year forbearance. So you do not need to pay back that principal starting for a year upon when it's approved for distribution. And then after that one year there'll be a payment schedule to pay back the principal of that loan.”

One item was pulled from the agenda before the meeting started. Mayor Rosenquest explained why he pulled his nomination for a permanent police chief.

“I had a couple of counselors, one particular counselor, that expressed a concern. Just needing a little bit more time. I do not have any concern with withdrawing an item to give more time for consideration. And so that's what we did tonight. And I hate to see these issues become political, because they are not political. They do not belong in the political spectrum. This is operational. This is public safety. This department has not had a permanent Chief of Police since December 2020, before I came on. And here we are right at the finish line to place a permanent police chief, an internal candidate. This person is the most experienced, the most respected officer in that department and he is the right choice for Chief of Police.”

Mayor Rosenquest did not indicate when his nomination for Police Chief would return to the council agenda.

The deadline for applications for the new Impacted Business Revolving Loan Fund is October 27th.

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