Medina mayor wants to try again for $10 million state grant for downtown revitalization

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2021 at 10:34 am

Courtesy of Village of Medina, DRI application: The Village of Medina wants to improve public access to the Medina Waterfalls by constructing an elevated platform from the towpath. That project was part of Medina’s application in 2019 for $10 million in DRI funding.

MEDINA – A $10 million grant to catapult economic and housing opportunities in the downtown district is again available to each of the 10 regions in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during his State of State addresses.

Medina was a finalist in 2019, missing out to Seneca Falls in the Finger Lakes Region.

“You’re not going to get it if you don’t go for it,” Medina Mayor Mike Sidari sad this morning.

The Village Board will discuss applying again for the grant during this evening’s board meeting. Medina could have a consultant “tweak” the previous application or Medina could start over with the application. Medina worked with Bergmann Associates previously to help prepare the application.

Medina was one of five finalists in 2019. That makes Sidari think the community already has a strong case for the funding.

Medina has a committee that identified residential, commercial and tourism projects that would build on recent successes and investments in the downtown and canal area.

The new application will likely be due in June with the winners announced in October or November.

Previous $10 million grant winners in the Finger Lakes region include the City of Geneva in 2016, the City of Batavia in 2017, the Village of Penn Yan in 2018 and Seneca Falls in 2019.

Medina’s application from 2019 lists the following projects to be considered for DRI funding:

• Streetscape Improvements at an estimated $1 million in DRI funding

Medina wants to improve the downtown pedestrian experience through street furniture, landscaping, and crosswalk enhancements on Main Street and Pearl Street.

The village wants to enhance crosswalks; add more benches, bike racks, trash receptacles and pedestrian lighting; and plant more street trees and shrubs.

• Rail with Trail, a multi-use trail along the Medina Railroad from the museum to Main Street, at an estimated DRI funding request of $200,000

The village wants to improve a gap within the pedestrian network and improve the connectivity from the Railroad Museum to the downtown. A “rail-with-trail” would create a multi-use path alongside the rail line.

• The Canal Village Farmer’s Market would become a year-round market with a community kitchen, distillery and event space as part of a $3 million project, with $2.8 million in DRI funding

The market is in its fifth year at the northeast corner of West Center Street and West Avenue. The market, which is run by Orleans Renaissance Group, currently operates on select weekends throughout the year out of a small building and temporary stands in the parking lot.

The ORG is seeking to construct a large, enclosed structure to allow for continuous, year-round operation of the market. The structure will be anchored by three tenants: the farmer’s market with a community kitchen and exhibit space; a distillery or microbrewery on the second floor; and a rooftop event space.

• Canal Basin Park – Improved waterfront access and amenities at the Canal Basin Park for $2 million, to be funded with the DRI.

The village in its application says the spot is hampered by an “overabundance of paved parking space and limited recreational access to the Erie Canal.” Medina wants to increase public access to the waterfront area and encourage recreational and passive use at this prime waterfront location.

Recommended improvements include:

• Installation of a pedestrian boardwalk along the rear facades of Main Street buildings;

• Conversion of the existing parking space into public greenspace with access to the Erie Canal;

• Construction of a promenade along the Erie Canal;

• Installation of boating docks on the Erie Canal;

• Comfort amenities, such as restrooms and showers;

• Crosswalk enhancements to improve pedestrian connection across East Center Street.

The village anticipates the changes would prompt building owners to “activate the rear facades of the buildings on Main Street, creating commercial opportunities on both sides of these structures and allowing for the development of new businesses.”

• State Street Park – enhanced programming to make the park a year-round recreational destination, with an ice skating rink, enhanced lighting, boat tie-ups, benches and bicycle racks, and a construction of a nature trail at a $600,000 cost, with the DRI funding $500,000.

The installation of motor boat tie-ups will allow boaters on the canal to join in on the enjoyment of local musicians’ performances at the bandstand during the summer months while the ice skating rink will allow for winter activities and encourage continued use of the park even during the off-season, the village stated in its application.

• Lions Park Boater Access – The village seeks $250,000 for the DRI to install boat tie-ups and docking facilities at the Lions Park near the Route 63 lift bridge.

The village, in its application, says boater amenities and docking infrastructure are limited within Medina. Throughout the community engagement process, the public consistently expressed a need for additional boater amenities along the waterfront.

This project also includes the creation of a fitness trail through Lions Park, with various pieces of fitness equipment located along the trail.

• Medina Falls Overlook – The village wants to better utilize the Medina waterfalls by adding a viewing platform and overlook off the Erie Canalway Trail, near the Horan Road Bridge. The project would cost an estimated $1.9 million with the DRI funding $1.5 million.

“Medina Falls is one of the Village’s stunning natural wonders,” according to the village’s application. “Its 40-foot drop dazzles onlookers and makes a great challenge for any kayakers willing to brave it. The scenic Falls, however, lacks an easily accessible viewing point and is obscured by brush, foliage, and a significant grade change that can be dangerous for interested onlookers to traverse.”

• Wayfinding Signage – Install a cohesive and well-branded system of wayfinding and directional signs at a cost of $200,000 with the DRI funding $150,000.

The signs would direct visitors to the Erie Canal, Waterfalls, public parking and other resources. Medina wants to add gateway signs, directional signs, kiosks and interpretive signs, light pole banners and identification signs for destinations and parking areas.

• Small Grant Fund – This fund will support economic-development related activities through the distribution of small grants to local businesses and investors. Medina would like a $900,000 fund with the DRI paying $600,000.

The fund is intended to support projects that retain jobs, generate increased economic activity, and improve the economic viability and livability of Downtown Medina. Eligible projects could include historic rehabilitation and repair, facade improvements, land acquisition, new construction, and event programming.

• Mustang City: Adaptive Reuse of the old Medina High School – A $9 million project with the DRI request at $3 million.

A developer, Talis Equity, seeks to transform 90,000 square feet 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. Just steps from the Erie Canal and downtown’s restaurants, shops and nightlife, Mustang City will provide attractive living options for anyone from young entrepreneurs to retirees, according to the village’s DRI application.

• Snappy’s Mixed-Use Development: This project at $1.8 million includes a $1 million DRI request. It would redevelop the Snappy facility on Commercial Street by the Erie Canal into a mixed-use commercial and residential space. The property could be redeveloped with the first floor for commercial uses and the second floor for residential.