State doubles funds for Downtown Revitalization Initiative

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 July 2021 at 5:35 pm

Medina will apply again for $10 million for series of projects

Courtesy of Village of Medina, previous 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 – The Village of Medina has a better chance of landing a $10 million grant as part of state Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

That’s because the state has doubled the funding, from $100 to $200 million for 10 regions in the state. In the first four DRI rounds, the state picked one winner from each of the 10 regions for $100 total.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the state will be allocating $20 million for each region, with either two $10 million winners or one $20 million recipient.

The communities have until Sept. 15 to submit an application. Medina Mayor Mike Sidari said the village will be trying again for the $10 million and is working with Bergmann, a Rochester engineering and architectural firm, and a local committee to identify projects.

Sidari said he expects there will be some changes from the previous application, including some new projects that may be added. The village’s application also should be strengthened by several recent additions to the downtown, including the completion of the Bent’s Opera House, an expansion at the Zambistro restaurant, several new murals and other projects in the downtown. The state wants to direct the $10 million to villages or cities with momentum in their downtowns.

“We’re marking the Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s fifth year by doubling down on our commitment to help reimagine communities across the state, especially as we prepare for a post-pandemic future,” Cuomo said in a recent announcement. “The DRI is a cornerstone of New York’s comprehensive economic development strategy to drive investment and job creation in downtowns across the state. Our investments will support new and existing businesses, drive new mixed-use developments and bolster the arts and cultural venues to help attract residents and visitors for years to come.”

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

Medina missed out to Seneca Falls in the Finger Lakes Region two years ago. The DRI wasn;t offered last year. 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.

Applications for DRI Round 5 are available on the DRI website (click here). All applications should be submitted with a $10 million award in mind but may indicate that they would also like to be considered for a $20 million award, Cuomo said in a news release.

As with past DRI rounds, each selected community needs to develop a strategic plan with a vision for the revitalization of its downtown and identifies a list of signature projects that have the potential to transform the downtown. DRI funds will then be awarded for selected projects that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and realize the community’s vision for the downtown, Cuomo said.

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

  • Streetscape Improvements at an estimated $1 million in DRI funding.
  • 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 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.
  • Canal Basin Park – Improved waterfront access and amenities at the Canal Basin Park for $2 million, to be funded with the DRI.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mustang City: Adaptive Reuse of the old Medina High School – A $9 million project with the DRI request at $3 million.
  • 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.