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Schenectady Heritage Area gets financial boost

The Schenectady Heritage Area has received a $20,000 grant from the Preserve America grant program administered by the National Parks Service.

The grants are only for Preserve America communities, which Schenectady was designated a few years ago, according to Heritage Area coordinator Maureen Gebert.

The Schenectady Heritage Area encompasses all of the Stockade and Union Street up to Union College and most of downtown, including Vale Park.

A lot of history happened in this area, and the buildings are still here, Gebert said. We do walking tours and programs, and we have markers identifying where historic figures lived. I actually think we have one that says, 'Washington slept here.'"

The Preserve America grants support preservation efforts through heritage tourism, education and historic preservation planning.

In a statement from her office, Sen. Hillary Clinton's said, "New York has a rich history and these funds will help the community really capitalize on all of our local historic treasures. These grants will support potential economic growth as well as historic preservation, celebrate our historic treasures and help guarantee that they are preserved for generations to come."

The $20,000 grant, which is the first the Heritage Area has received, will be used to hire a planning consultant to update the Heritage Area's plan, which Gebert said is 20 years old.

Gebert wants to update the plan and move Schenectady's Visitor's Center out of the Schenectady Museum and into the Gillette House in the Stockade.

Gebert said the new Heritage Area program would include the county's programs through the Chamber of Commerce.

Gebert said 22 communities in New York use heritage programs to promote economic development. Rensselaer County, Brockport, and the city of Cortland also received Preserve America grants.

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