NISKAYUNA, NY (NEWS10) – At the July meeting of the Niskayuna City Council on Tuesday, July 26, City Supervisor Jaime Puccioni introduced resolutions that would pave the way for the acceptance of a grant from $250,000 for the improvement of city parks. Puccioni also established the framework for accepting $25,000 in funding for programs for seniors and children.
“One of the first things I did as supervisor was to take an inventory of all the aging facilities in town, get ballpark estimates for repairs, and start prioritizing lists so we can focus our efforts to attract funding,” said Puccioni. “After that, I reviewed our current grant pipeline and explored ways to expand it further.”
The supervisor says growing up “resource poor” taught him to research, prioritize and pinch pennies. “I reviewed all of our grants, spoke to our partner, Assemblyman Phil Steck, and got to work reviewing grant applications and applying for new grants.”
Assemblyman Steck is very supportive of Supervisor Puccioni’s approach to grants and projects. “Supervisor Puccioni came into the role of City Supervisor with a very clear vision of how to preserve, protect and improve the city’s resources and facilities. I am at his side, ready to help him as much as possible. The two grants accepted by the Niskayuna Municipal Council this evening are only the beginning of our collaboration.
A resolution accepts a $250,000 grant that was restructured by Puccioni to fund three high-priority projects. “Avon Crest’s courts were a pressing concern from my first months as City Supervisor. Not only are they necessary to keep residents active and healthy, but we are constantly working to attract new employers to the city and protect property values. It is essential that we avoid closed and chained installations. I am grateful that we have a partner in Assemblymember Steck. He understands these issues and fights to obtain funding.
Paul Olson, one of about 150 members of the Mohawk Pickleball Club, was dismayed in early spring when he learned that the pickleball and tennis courts at Avon Crest Park would be chained and locked. “It’s true that the courts had big cracks and the posts were lifting off the ground, so I understand the safety issues, but at the same time, we really have nowhere to play,” Olson said.
“I was cautiously optimistic when I spoke with Supervisor Puccioni about the state of Avon Crest’s facilities.” Olson added, “She’s an athlete and she appreciates how many people rely on these pickle ball games to stay competitive and fit. We have stayed in touch and I am cautiously optimistic about these results.
Nanette Hay, an avid tennis player, is also happy to hear that the courts will be razed and rebuilt. “We are always looking for local places to play tennis,” commented Nanette, who also sits on the board of the Niskayuna Women’s Tennis Association. “Avon Crest’s courts weren’t safe before, and frankly, because of that, I was happy to see the chains go up. Now, with a grant that pays for new courts, I’ll be happy to again play at Avon Crest.
City council member and chairman of the public works committee, Bill McPartlon assisted Supervisor Puccioni with institutional knowledge and facility information. “I’m glad I helped secure this funding and plan these upgrades,” McPartlon said. “We are keeping an eye on inflation and planning ahead for supply chain issues, but I think it will work out very well for our residents and our property values.”
Puccioni says that in addition to renovating the tennis and pickleball courts, the $250,000 grant will also fund a project needed to improve drainage at the Babe Ruth baseball field. The grant will also pay for the addition of a small dog run at Niskayuna Dog Park.
The Supervisor also proposed a resolution to accept the award of a separate $25,000 grant that she drafted in conjunction with the Director of Community Programs, Lori Peretti. This second grant is funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Services in partnership with the office of Assemblyman Phil Steck.
Puccioni reports that the funds will be used to organize additional events at senior centers focusing on cultural engagement and art classes, as well as community programs to support movie nights, free level one swimming lessons for 60 children who have not learned to swim, and the purchase of snowshoes for residents to use for local guided hikes during the winter. The grant will also provide passes to the West Mountain Ski Club for 10 children.