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Penn Yan begins downtown improvement plan

PENN YAN--The process of putting the details together for downtown revitalization, the ideas and the concepts that will eventually pay for the brick and mortar building, has started. The first meeting with local and state officials was held Thursday, Nov. 8 in the village office. Attending the first meeting were some 60 members of the public along with officials and local members of the downtown improvement committee.
Penn Yan's third round Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) win entitles it to receive $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhoods and generate new opportunities for long-term growth. Penn Yan now joins Geneva and Batavia, which were the Finger Lakes region's winners in the first and second DRI rounds, respectively.
The DRI planning effort in Penn Yan will focus on creating and promoting sustained, year-round economic growth by concentrating on four areas: leveraging natural assets, capitalizing on the growing craft food and beverage industry, using the local art scene as an economic engine, and capturing the intellectual capital that lives and vacations in the village.
With technical assistance provided by the state, each participating community develops a strategic investment plan that identifies specific projects that will align with a unique vision for revitalization of the downtown area.
The DRI area includes a 234 acre area of Penn Yan. The boundaries include Route 14A, 54, and 54A. The Keuka Lake waterfront, the marsh area and the Keuka Outlet are all included within the DRI boundaries.
The Penn Yan local planning committee will oversee the efforts for the village. Mayor Leigh MacKerchar and Steve Griffin, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center CEO, will co-chair the local committee.
Members of the committee include planning board members, a village trustee, chamber of commerce president, a commercial banker along with members of private and public 501c3 groups and several state officials to coordinate local efforts. The local planning committee is working with the Rochester -based firm, LaBella Associates, for architectural, building and village planning concepts with overall project coordination.
At the meeting Thursday evening in Penn Yan, LaBella's Ed Flynn explained the time frame of the project and added some details about the information that will be considered to eventually recommend the Penn Yan DRI projects. Flynn said, "Basically, we will come up with $15 million in projects that the local committee thinks are the best to pursue, From that list, the state will select $9.7 million ($300,000 goes to the planning firm for program coordination) of the projects to actually pursue."
Flynn mentioned the committee basically has five months to complete their work.
Flynn added, "We will have our recommended list of local projects complete by March and then be submit to the state for their final determination."
The Penn Yan DRI planning committee will consider public improvement projects, private development projects, revolving grant and loan projects, as well as branding and marketing projects. The project location must be within the DRI Boundary and will be evaluated by the committee members. A map of the DRI boundary is displayed above this story. The various deadlines for information requests and additional public meetings will also be announced as the project develops.
Steve Griffin said, "It's an exciting time for Penn Yan!"

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