Medina misses out on $10 million downtown revitalization grant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 December 2021 at 10:45 am

MEDINA – The Village of Medina wasn’t picked by the state for one of two $10 million downtown revitalization grants for the Finger Lakes Region.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced the $10 million grants will go to the City of Rochester in Monroe County and the Village of Newark in Wayne County.

Medina was one of five finalists for the grant, just like in 2019, the last time the funding was available.

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.

Mayor Mike Sidari is hopeful the state will offer the $10 million again. He said it would have a major impact in the village of about 6,000 people.

Sidari posted this comment to the Orleans Hub Facebook page: “First thing, I would like to thank Chris Busch and Kathy Blackburn for working with me to put this application together with the assistance from the Bergmann Group. Also, thanks to Scott Robinson and Andrew Meier for joining us to present our application to the committee. Yes, this is disappointing for the village. However, we need to look at where we were 10 years ago and where we are now. Our village has been transformed, from our downtown to our recreation areas. We have a lot of hard-working dedicated residents and business owners working to continue to improve our village. Let’s be proud of what we have and continue to make Medina one of the most outstanding communities in WNY and the Finger Lakes.”

The state chose Newark which has a population of about 9,000 people and Rochester, which has about 210,000 residents.

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 sought funding for streetscape Improvements, multi-use trail along the Medina Railroad from the museum to Main Street, upgrades to Canal Village Farmer’s Market, improved waterfront access and amenities at the Canal Basin Park, enhanced programming at State Street Park (ice skating rink, enhanced lighting, boat tie-ups, benches and bicycle racks, and a construction of a nature trail), boat tie-ups and docking facilities at the Lions Park, viewing platform and at Medina waterfalls, wayfinding signage, small grant fund for local businesses, adaptive reuse of the old Medina High School to turn into apartments, and redeveloping the Snappy facility on Commercial Street by the Erie Canal into a mixed-use commercial and residential space.

“Investing in our downtowns is vital to reigniting New York’s recovery,” Governor Hochul said in announcing the DRI winners. “These awards will enhance Rochester and Newark so that locals and visitors alike can enjoy all these areas have to offer. The Finger Lakes is a region brimming with history and attractions and I look forward to seeing how these winners will use their funds to bring their communities to the next level.”

Here is what Hochul’s Office said about Rochester and Newark in announcing the awards:

Rochester – Rochester’s DRI will focus on the transformation of the long-blighted area in the center of downtown along the north side of Main Street from Clinton Avenue down to the Genesee River.

With a 17% population increase since 2010 and 50% of the population being aged 20-34 years old, Rochester’s downtown has seen significant private and public investment in the last 15 years, including new housing, hotels, updates to the convention center, multiple high-tech business and incubators to boost a burgeoning Downtown Innovation Zone, and a resurgence of the city’s waterfront thanks to dozens of projects that are part of the state supported ROC The Riverway initiative.

However, the Main and Clinton block is in desperate need of redevelopment while progress continues all around it. The winning plan will help to improve streetscapes and public spaces, upgrade the built environment, and increase pedestrian access/connections in order to catalyze further investment in the area, putting the finishing touches on the city’s downtown revitalization, creating a resurgent Rochester where more people will want to live, work and play.

Newark – Downtown Newark is a compact, walkable, well-defined, and concentrated area that the village aims to make the heartbeat of a lively, world-class village and the cultural and commercial center of the Finger Lakes region with the Erie Canal serving as the village’s center of commerce.

With multiple, large anchor institutions and ongoing job growth, Newark has seen nearly $220 million invested in the village in the last 10 years. A robust public engagement process led the village to identify needs for infill mixed-use development, more housing for workforce and seniors, and new space for indoor recreation and wellness with a focus on utilizing space along the Erie Canal.

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Rochester and Newark as the nominees:

  • The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
  • The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
  • There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
  • The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
  • The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
  • The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a DRI strategic investment plan;
  • The municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
  • The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.