City officials consider grant writing ideas, train station relocation

John Duchessi, former mayor of Amsterdam and current Montgomery County legislator, gave a presentation about the grant writing services his company TGW Consulting could provide to the city at a common council committee meeting on Tuesday. Duchessi said that he saw many opportunities for the city to apply for grants for a variety of needs in the areas of public safety, records management, infrastructure, and others.

Council members considered a $25,000 per year proposal from Duchessi to provide the city with grant writing services. Under the proposal, TGW Consulting would not only research and write  grant applications, but actively look for and advise the city on grant opportunities that become available.

“Grant writing is all about project development,” said Duchessi. “Typically, when a grant is announced, its really too late to put an application in. The idea is to [be] working to develop a fund-able project. And that’s why this retainer fee would position the city to allow us to help develop those grant opportunities.”

Duchessi mentioned that the city had already received a $115,000 grant to prepare detailed plans for the relocation of the city’s train station from the west end of the city to the downtown area. He said that once the planning work was done, the city would most likely need to apply for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant in order to proceed with the construction.

“Those grants are very difficult to write and to score. Last year there were only I think 30 or 39 in the whole United States,” said Duchessi. “We wrote one of those applications once that did not get funded. But it became the basis of an application that next year, did get funded through the consolidated funding application.”

Mayor Michael Villa said that he saw many “gaps” in the city’s grant writing process, citing small items, such as police equipment, that he saw the city bonding for which he said the city could have obtained a grant for instead.

Villa also mentioned he would be meeting with Congressman Paul Tonko on Wednesday to discuss the proposed train station relocation project.

In regards to the needed TIGER grant, Villa said, “It’s a tough grant to get, maybe one or two per state are issued. So we need to put the best people that we can find at a reasonable cost to give us the best shot.”

“I think with the TIGER grant in the future, it’s beneficial to have [TGW Consulting] on board just for that fact alone and I think anything else would be a surplus,” said Villa.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.