State makes downtown revitalization grants available again

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 July 2022 at 3:20 pm

Medina was finalist last year, missing out to Rochester and Newark in Finger Lakes Region; Smaller villages eligible for up to $4.5 million with $10 million for metro areas

Photo from Governor’s Office: Gov. Kathy Hochul announces the state will make $200 million available for downtown revitalization. She spoke on July 13 in Jamaica, Queens.

The Village of Medina, which has been a finalist for a $10 million downtown revitalization grant, will get another shot at millions from the state.

However, Medina would now be eligible in a new program – NY Forward, where the grants are targeted for downtowns in hamlets and villages. Instead of $10 million, the grants would be for up to $4.5 million, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

She announced the state is making $200 million available for downtowns – $100 million to invigorate smaller and rural downtowns and $100 million for downtown areas in metropolitan areas.

Medina is in the Finger Lakes Region. Last year it missed out on the $10 million to the Village of Newark in Wayne County and the City of Rochester.

Other 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 was one of five finalists for the grant in 2019 and in 2021.

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

“Yes, this is disappointing for the village,” Mayor Mike Sidari said when Medina missed out last year. “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.”

Medina’s application in 2021 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.

Gov. Hochul announced the downtown revitalization availability last week in Jamaica, Queens, a past winner for the $10 million.

The governor announced that the $100 million for smaller and rural communities would be through the NY Forward program, while the metro areas would be through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“New York’s downtowns are the heart and soul of our communities and regions, and today we’re taking comprehensive action to support them,” Hochul said last week. “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has ignited a renaissance in these spaces, which are critical to the continued growth of businesses and local economies, and I am proud to support this vital program. As we grow our downtowns, we are proud to launch a new program — NY Forward — that will provide crucial support to New York’s smaller and rural communities to help bring them back to the bustling towns and villages they once were.”

Hochul announced NY Forward to build on DRI’s momentum. She said NY Forward will support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York’s smaller and rural communities with a focus on hamlets and villages. NY Forward is meant serve smaller communities and support local economies that often have a feel and charm that is distinct from larger, metropolitan urban centers funded through DRI, she said in a news release.

The state us assigning a consultant to work with NY Forward communities through a planning and technical assistance process to develop a slate of readily implementable projects, with each regional economic development council nominating the winners.

NY Forward differs, however, by providing capacity-building workshops and technical assistance from consultants to assist communities in developing their full applications and throughout the implementation process, Hochul’s office said in the news release.

NY Forward also offers two funding options for each region—two $4.5 million awards or one $4.5 million grant and two $2.25 million grants.

Applications for NY Forward will launch later this month and winners are expected to be selected later this year.

For more information, click here.