The Saratoga Garden Board met Monday to discuss plans for the approaching growing season, as well as efforts to separate itself from the Town of Saratoga.
At the Monday meeting, the board discussed joining the Saratoga HUB, a nonprofit associated with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, a 501(c)(3). The HUB had expressed interest in helping the garden board, according to garden board members.
The garden board relied on the town of Saratoga to be its financial agent for a sizable USDA grant, but late last year a controversy erupted after allegations of financial impropriety by members of the town coucil. While those allegations were showed to be baseless and the tenor of negotiations between the town and the garden board have taken on a more conciliatory tone, there are other issues in the way of the board leaving the town.
Last month, board member Steve Deorio spoke at a town council meeting and suggested the garden board could find an existing 501(c)(3) nonprofit to join. That group would be fiscal agents for the board instead of the town of Saratoga.
Such a plan would also mean the board or the town would not have to come up with funding to allow the board to incorporate itself as a 501(c)(3).
The garden board approached Feeding Laramie Valley, an Albany County nonprofit, which expressed an interest in bringing the Saratoga Garden board in under its 501(c)(3) charter. Feeding Laramie Valley would have then become the garden board’s fiscal agent for the dispersal and management of the garden board’s remaining USDA grant.
But there may be issues with that plan, according to Deorio and garden board member Cindy Bloomquist.
The issue is the way the USDA grant operates, Bloomquist said. The grant does not write a check to the fiscal agent and allow the grantee to spend it. Rather, the grant requires the grantee to purchase items out-of-pocket and then get reimbursed.
Feeding Laramie Valley likely does not have the money to front the cash, Bloomquist said.
The HUB, on the other hand, does have those kinds of resources, she added. Asked whether she thought the link between the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and community garden was a tenuous leap, Deorio and Bloomquist said no.
“They have an interest in things the kids can be a part of,” Bloomquist said, adding the HUB once had a bed at the community garden before building its own plot behind the HUB’s building on West Bridge Street.
The HUB could then expand its gardening program for children, Deorio said.
A member of the HUB, Sarah Lincoln, was scheduled to attend the meeting Monday, but was unable to make it.
Deorio said next step for the garden board would be to have Ted Craig of the USDA and Feeding Laramie Valley to address members of the town council at its meeting. Craig was slated to appear at Tuesday’s town council meeting but did not make it because of weather. The next Saratoga Town Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m., April 18.
The next meeting of the garden board will be 5:30 p.m. May 1 at the residence of Steve Deorio 1708 S Veterans St. in Saratoga. Members of the public are invited.