The Village of Babylon got a little bit closer to restoring Argyle Falls with a grant from Suffolk County this week. Adding that to the donation by long-time resident Theresa Santmann, the village has amassed $300,000 in funds committed to the work.
Now, they just have to figure out what that much-needed renovation will cost.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the village was awarded $100,000 for the work from Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning’s Jumpstart Grant program.
The Argyle Falls restoration is one of eight projects that was approved for the Jumpstart Grant. Earlier this month, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved the program. In total there is $5 million available for these projects through the grant.
Other projects that are getting funding through the grant include a new parking lot on Port Jefferson and improvements to a pedestrian and bicycle pathway in Bay Shore.
According to Mayor Ralph Scordino, Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey helped to get the village this grant.
“Kevin McCaffrey inquired through the county to see if we could get additional money for the falls,” he told GreaterBabylon by phone.
Scordino also said the actual cost to renovate the falls is still a big question mark.
“Once we get a bid you then get a general idea of what it will cost,” he said.
In the meantime, the village has been garnering financial commitments to help allay the costs. In the past, Scordino said they will save some money by doing some of the work in-house.
Environmental concerns will probably increase the cost because materials have to be handled in a specific way by experts.
“One of the stipulations that make this unique in this thing is because it’s an estuary, it’s regulated by the DEC and everything has to be encapsulated including sandblasting, paint, and mortar,” said Scordino.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was in Babylon for a press conference and to ceremoniously sign off on the resolution awarding the funds on Tuesday morning. He was joined by Scordino and other village officials including trustees and the presidents of the historical society and chamber of commerce.
Scordino said it was a great day.
In a statement released on Facebook about the event, the mayor called Argyle Falls iconic.
“It is Babylon Village history whether coming into or leaving the Village,” he said. “It adds value to our community and downtown, and will be around for generations to come for everyone to enjoy and create memories.”
He also mentioned an additional grant that was pending from the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation fund.
The money from Suffolk County isn’t just sitting in the bank. Scordino said that even though the grant was approved, he believes that the village will still have to apply to get the funds for the restoration as work is done.
“Nobody just gives you a check,” he said.
Top: File photo of Babylon Village’s Argyle Falls.