Kay Revelas made a big difference for Medina, especially with downtown rebirth
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Catherine “Kay” Revelas last Wednesday. Her obituary currently appears in the Union Sun & Journal in Lockport.
Kay was a good friend. Many in Medina new her and her family much longer than I, but I first met Kay when she was Director of the Medina Chamber of Commerce many years ago. Every now and then up until 2019, we’d meet downtown for lunch so she could catch up on the latest news of her beloved Downtown Medina.
You see, Kay was the spark that lit the fuse ultimately leading to the explosion of Downtown Medina’s rebirth.
All those years ago, Kay saw in Downtown Medina what many could not see. She saw the great architectural bones, the history and the potential of a restored and preserved streetscape for business and tourism.
When many were saying, “We’re not Fairport or Spencerport! We’re not Lewiston or East Aurora!”, Kay respectfully disagreed and doggedly went about fighting to prove her point. It was Kay who spurred on Medina’s first efforts with a transformative façade restoration program. She also championed the state and national historic designations for downtown, as well as the first local preservation ordinance.
Once the first façades had been restored, the result was amazement. People slowly began to see what she had seen along– the great potential of our historic architectural resources, restored and renewed. Those storefronts became desirable. One by one, others embraced restoration and preservation. Downtown Medina became “the place to be.”
Today, it is a bonafide destination, known far and wide for the total experience it has to offer– rich history and incredible architecture housing some on WNY’s most desirable shops, hotels and restaurants. The storefronts are full with businesses thriving.
I and many others have personally witnessed this– visitors from the places mentioned above and more– coming to Medina not once, but regularly to enjoy the “downtown experience.”
Case in point: Last Saturday, I spoke with a couple at the Canal Village Farmers’ Market downtown, currently housed in the former NAPA store for the winter market. It was their second trip in as many weeks to the market and downtown. They were savoring the experience– they knew the story of Grover Cleveland’s brush with the law and were so excited to see the building where he had been held. They had lunched at Zambistro last week and were looking to try Fitzgibbons after a stop at the English Rose Tea Shop. They were excited to walk Main Street and delighted in the history and architecture; they were effusive about downtown… and they were from Lewiston.
This was Kay’s vision realized and it would’ve made her heart sing.
The destination downtown we enjoy today all began with Kay Revelas and her tenacious pursuit of her vision that we now can all see very clearly. If ever there was an individual worthy of being memorialized with a downtown plaque, it’s Kay.
Thank you, Kay! What a legacy you have left us!
Village of Medina Planning Board – retired
Village of Medina Architectural & Historic Review Board – retired
Orleans Renaissance Group, Inc., President