It’s been a big year of developments at the Williamsville Water Mill, from hiring Flynn Battaglia as the architects to sending out requests for proposals to developers.
As the deadline for proposals draws near, the village received word of a major development: the New York State Historic Preservation Office has awarded the village $244,820 towards the stabilization and preservation of the 199-year-old structure.
This is the third consecutive grant the village has received for the mill from the state. According to SHPO regional grants officer Noelle Kardos, the Williamsville project was competing against 20 other applicants for funding.
“I’m very excited that all of our hard work is coming to fruition,” said trustee Jeffrey Kingsley. “There’s a sense of enthusiasm that I haven’t seen about the mill parcel since I’ve been on the board.”
Kingsley is the head of the mill committee, and has said that mill-related issues drove his decision to run for village board. He feels that the process they developed in seeking partners for the mill has led to the village’s success in receiving state grants.
“Since we put this process in place, hiring the consultant and putting forth a plan, we have been awarded in kind three successive grants from New York State for restoration and stabilization,” he said.
“For me, for the committee, for the village, it’s proof positive that we needed to do our due diligence in coming up with a groundwork for the restoration of the mill. I’m glad to see that our partnership with SHPO continues to remain strong and they’re happy with the direction that we’re going in.”
Kingsley did not say precisely what the funds will be used for, but mentioned that the mill committee has developed a list of projects on the parcel that need to be addressed, including stabilization of the supporting wall.
“It makes more sense to wait until we have the big picture before we start picking off projects,” said mayor Mary Lowther.
Many have criticized the village for the mill’s run-down appearance as it works towards redevelopment. Kingsley acknowledged that the mill currently doesn’t look attractive, but wants people to know that a great deal is happening behind the scenes.
“Investing in a comprehensive plan by hiring reputable architects, by hiring historic preservation consultants, that was more important when dealing with limited funds than trying to do some interim stabilization,” said Kingsley.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not doing our job as landowners, but I think the fact we got the third consecutive grant demonstrates that when you have a plan in place, you will be supported.”
The official deadline for requests for proposal was Friday, Nov. 19, though some entities had asked for and received an extension. Kingsley and Lowther are optimistic that there will be good options to choose from, and both are optimistic about the mill’s future in general.
“SHPO is very much in favor of the preservation of this mill because it’s such a rarity,” Lowther said. “Its exciting to have this funding sitting there waiting for us. We’re in an enviable position.”