Medina eager to get to work on $4.5 million grant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2023 at 2:38 pm

Specific projects likely at least a year away from approval

Provided photo: Mayor Mike Sidari, right, holds a ceremonial check for $4.5 million after the governor’s presentation on Monday. Joining him from right to left include: Village Trustee Tim Elliott, Kathy Blackburn, Diana Baker, Village Trustee Jess Marciano, Scott Robinson of the Medina Area Partnership and David Flynn.

MEDINA – The long-awaited news on Monday that Medina was a big winner for projects in the downtown and near the waterfront is a “transformative moment for Medina,” said Mayor Mike Sidari.

He attended an event in Rochester on Monday when Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $4.5 million Forward NY grant for Medina. The Village of Geneseo also was awarded a $4.5 million grant and the Village of Perry won the big $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant for the Finger Lakes Region.

Sidari is thrilled with the $4.5 million coming to Medina. He praised the business community and a team of village officials and volunteers who have been pursuing the $10 million DRI for six years now. Medina made it as a finalist before, but never secured the funding until Monday.

The state this year broke up the downtown revitalization grants. There are still $10 million DRI winners among 10 regions in the state, but the state is giving smaller Forward NY grants of up to $4.5 million for villages or hamlets.

Sidari said there is still more hard work to do before tapping into the money. The State Department of State will send a representative to Medina in about two weeks to go over the next steps.

Sidari said he expects a committee will be formed of village officials and the business community to zero in on specific projects, get commitments from property owners and construction estimates, and then send those projects to the state for final approval.

That is expected to take much of this year before the state finalizes the projects, and then the work could proceed in perhaps a year. But it could take longer. Sidari noted some of the construction projects in Batavia didn’t get started until last year – more than four years after Batavia was awarded the $10 million DRI in October 2017.

“Hopefully at the end of this year we can announce our projects,” he said on Monday evening. “The process will get started it about two weeks. I expect it will be about two years before we see changes.”

The $4.5 million grant from the state will push Medina forward, Sidari said, “advancing opportunity for entrepreneurs, job creation, generation of tax revenue and ultimately attracting more young families and tourists.”

Photo from Governor’s Office: Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a $4.5 million Forward NY grant for the Village of Medina during a presentation on Monday at The Theater at Innovation Square in Rochester.

Medina’s application included seven proposals for funding, but those aren’t necessarily how the money will be allocated. It’s almost guaranteed those seven proposals won’t be funded at the levels in the application because Medina didn’t get the $10 million.

Sidari said the $4.5 million will still make a big impact in the downtown area. “I think it will be just enough money for what we need to do,” he said.

The proposals in Medina application include:

• Small project grant fund for Main Street, West Avenue – $1 million estimated cost with $500,000 of grant.

This project is designed to support façade (a building’s street-facing elevation) improvements to commercial and mixed-use properties on Main Street that benefit both the businesses occupying those buildings and the community as a whole. Necessary updates include paint, brick, wood, awnings/canopies, lighting, windows and doors.

“Improvements to the street-facing exteriors of the buildings in need are meant to preserve the unique small-town charm in our community while spurring economic growth,” the village’s application states.

• Renovation and activation of upper stories, Main Street and West Avenue – $800,000 with $400,000 from grant.

Medina’s Main Street and downtown have proudly seen a relatively low first floor vacancy rate, while many of the upper stories remain vacant and underutilized, according to the application.

The property owners of the buildings located at 509 Main Street, 345 Main Street, 425 Main Street, and 525 West Avenue have shown interest in the following renovations: structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, new windows and a sprinkler system.

The building owners will be contributing to the rehabilitation costs. These spaces will offer expanded commercial space as well as additional housing and help create a more vibrant and active downtown, according to the application.

• Way-finding signage throughout village for $100,000.

While Medina contains many unique assets and historic resources, in many instances visitors may not be knowledgeable about the close proximity of the Erie Canal and other recreational resources. Conversely, those traveling by boat or bicycle on the Erie Canal may be unaware of the vibrant downtown that is steps away from the Canal Basin, which is part of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, according to the village’s application

Potential signage types for downtown may include gateway signs, directional signs (vehicular and pedestrian), kiosks and interpretive signs, identification signs (destinations and parking areas), and light pole banners.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Medina in its application sought $100,000 of the grant to better direct people to attractions in the village. This photo is from Main Street this past December. Medina also is seeking to upgrade a municipal parking lot behind Main Street and East Center Street.

• Municipal parking lot upgrades at area behind Main Street and East Center Street – Estimated cost $500,000 with $300,000 from grant.

There is a large parking lot that lies to the southeast of the intersection at Main Street and East Center Street within walking distance of many businesses. The underutilized lot offers more than 50 much-needed parking spaces but needs enhancements including paving, directional signs (vehicular and pedestrian), green space/trees that provide shade and drainage, security cameras, safe pedestrian connections and additional lighting.

“These changes will help attract the attention of visitors and provide a necessary relief to existing parking infrastructure,” village officials stated in the application.

The village would like to improve a municipal parking lot to add more spaces and make the site more attractive.

• State Street Park – $300,000 for updated playground equipment and a small ice rink, bicycle amenities, seating benches and additional lighting.

“Despite recent improvements, including the addition of a small pavilion that allowed the park to host a summer concert series, State Street Park remains relatively underutilized, especially in the off-season,” village officials said.

• Mustang City: adaptive reuse of old high school at 324 Catherine St., $9 million project, $3 million in grant requested.

Mustang City will be a loft-style community set in the historic former Medina High School building. This project will involve the restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic structure, transforming its 90,000 square-foot floor area into 40 loft apartments. Mustang City will fulfill Medina’s need for additional housing options and will allow for a new kind of “maintenance-free” living, with amenities and services including grocery delivery, cleaning, and laundry pickup. This project is already underway with over 100 new windows and a new roof.

• Medina Railroad Museum: seeking $1.5 million.

The Medina Railroad Museum draws approximately 40,000 people annually. It recently invested $40,000 in the construction of a panel track to display box cars and house new exhibit and cafe spaces as well as restrooms and is also in the process of creating a continuous boarding platform.

The museum envisions these investments as part of a larger plan to expand its footprint and to create more of a campus-like complex. The campus will extend east from the existing museum building to the old train station near Main Street, creating a visible and intriguing presence along the main thoroughfare, according to the village application.

The train station building (currently used as the senior center) is owned by the village. The Railroad Museum would to see it become a welcome center and small exhibit space, attracting people off Main Street and to the museum (while the senior center would be relocated to Village Hall).

A landscaped pedestrian plaza will connect the train station to the existing museum building. Site improvements at the existing museum will include visitor experience enhancements, roof upgrades, parking lot paving, as well as landscape beautification. On the southern side of the tracks, the campus plan calls for the creation of a park-like courtyard space adjacent to the library. This courtyard will include the installation of two, permanent dining cars – to be rented out for weddings and other events – as well as an enclosed pole barn building, which will be used to store and repair cars, according to the application.