Gloversville receives $ 250,000 gift for new park
The Joint Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept a private donation of $ 250,000 from the William H. St. Thomas Family Foundation to help “establish and beautify St. Thomas Square” a North Green Space project. Main Street and Elm Street to be built next to to the north of the current Farmer’s Market Pavilion, near Wandel Park.
Mayor Vince DeSantis told council that Nancy St. Thomas, William St. Thomas’ granddaughter, decided to donate the money after reconnecting with her Gloversville High School classmate in 1967, Councilor from 1st Quarter Marcia Weiss in 2017 at their 50th class reunion.
“We kept in touch the entire time after the reunion – I’ve known her from kindergarten – and then all of a sudden she called and said she wanted to do something with her grandfather’s foundation. “Weiss said. “She had around $ 250,000, and because he was so big in our city, she felt it was something she wanted to do with her name on it.”
William St. Thomas owned a successful leather goods manufacturing business in Gloversville for decades called St. Thomas Inc., which also owned the St. Thomas factory outlet at 35 W 8th Ave., now closed.
DeSantis read a letter from Nancy St. Thomas to council explaining her intentions with the grant and praising the city administration under DeSantis and the council for their revitalization strategy.
“My grandfather was instrumental in employing over 300 people at the St. Thomas plant at some point in the past, and he helped make Gloversville a destination for leather goods in the world. ‘New York State,’ DeSantis read in Nancy St. Thomas’ letter. “To honor his efforts and the efforts of all leatherworkers in Fulton County, I would like to propose a green space to be created along Elm Street, connecting the Farmers Market and Wandel Park. The purpose of the green space would be to allow people to enjoy an open-air, tree-lined promenade, while making the city more aesthetic.
According to the letter from Nancy St. Thomas, part of the foundation’s motivation in making the donation is to take advantage of planned improvements to the site of the former family mill.
“This proposed space is very close to the St. Thomas factory. I understand the new owners are preparing to revitalize the plant space for mixed use, ”DeSantis read in the letter.
The $ 250,000 donation is intended to be used as matching funds for a New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) grant that the city is pursuing that would help fund the creation of the green space. The resolution passed by council says the city can use the William H. St. Thomas Family Foundation to help create St. Thomas Square even if the state does not approve the CFA grant.
DeSantis said executives at the William H. St. Thomas Family Foundation will need to approve the St. Thomas Square design plan before releasing funds.
On Tuesday evening, council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution to pay $ 20,000 for a design plan proposal from Saratoga Springs-based Elan Planning, Design & Landscape Architecture firm for St. Thomas Square.
Depending on the resolution, some of the design features of the park will include:
• An improved entrance that will honor the St. Thomas family
• A footbridge configured through the Castiglione park
• An open-air performance hall with structured seating for around 70 people
• Landscaped green space that transforms the parking lot on Elm Street into a “Green Village”
• New lighting aimed at aesthetic balance, as well as new electrical service outlets for lighting and stage performances
• Benches, tables and new accessibility features for people with disabilities
Part of the council-approved design proposal includes Elan providing assistance to the city in the tendering process to find “qualified site contractors”.
According to Elan’s plan, the construction drawing and technical specifications for the new park must be completed by June 24. The city will then bid for the construction phase and award contracts by July 22, and St. Thomas Square is expected to be completed by September. 3.
The plan makes no mention of the role of the state’s potential CFA grant, which is typically awarded in December.
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