By Patsy Nicosia
If the Town of Jefferson and SEEC are successful in their efforts to write a New York Main Street Target area grant, things could start looking up for the Town Green. Working with SEEC, the town has requested $380,083 to be matched locally by $194,647 for a total of $574,730 in building and landscape improvements. Jefferson is also one of several municipalities that’s applied for a state Consolidated Development Block Grant, money that would go to sidewalks. Applications for both grants weren’t released until late 2020, leaving most communities scrambling. But Jefferson, where Middlebrook Mill plans a 2021 opening and the Historical Society is already rehabbing the historic Judd Hall for its newquarters, seems tailor-made for the Main Street grant, said SEEC’s Jerrine Corallo. And because they were already working on their own, they had the information they needed to complete the application almost at their fingertips. Carol Greenman is one of the four Middlebrook Mill partners who’ve been working for a couple of years to install a stone-ground mill for small grains, along with small café, and retail space on a building they own on one side of the Green. The idea grew out of a fundraiser for the Historical Society that recreated and then marketed the Jefferson Griddlecake Mix. Since then, they’ve been marketing their products locally using flour from another small mill in Trumansburg, but once their equipment arrives in Jefferson this spring, Ms.Greenman said, they plan to begin partnering with local grain growers. If Jefferson’s successful in getting the Main Street grant it could be used for interior and exterior work not only at the Mill, but also at a half-dozen other historic—but mostly empty—buildings also along the Green. Martha Hacklin, until recently an art teacher at Jefferson Central School, has her eye on one of three owned by Bruce Van Zile. Building on the success of the popular open mic nights held at Judd Hall before COVID shut everything down, she wants to create a space for art and music for both kids and adults in one of them. Jefferson Supervisor Peggy Hait is thrilled by the possibilities. Though’s especially focused on the CDBG grant, which she’d put toward sidewalks, Ms. Hait sees all of the work as something as a way to bring together the town’s past, present and future. “This would really let us upgrade the area from the Route10 intersection to Park Avenue,” she said. “People want to get out and walk—especially now—but our sidewalks are in bad shape. If we can bring together the different pieces of this, and with what the Historical Society is doing…it would be wonderful for our community.” Ms. Corallo, SEEC’s grantwriter, said the Main Street grants fit well with SEEC’s own goal of Main Street revitalization—and with Jefferson. “Carol and the other business-owners…there’s a lot of energy and because they’ve been working on this, they were ready to go—even with the short deadline,” she said. “It brings together so many pieces—history, art, agriculture, business…” The grants are expected to be announced in March.