Watkins Glen project deadline set for March
WATKINS GLEN--The village of Watkins Glen will see a number of new projects as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) with $10 million in funding to improve and transform the downtown area. Recently, a survey of the potential projects has been put online for feedback about the ideas, and the sixth Local Planning Committee (LPC) meeting further explored many of the projects taking shape.
There are a number of deadlines quickly approaching for project development. The survey will be available online until Monday, March 5, while the final public workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, March 7. After that period the projects will be finalized and the plan will be submitted at the end of March. The state will then review the funding requests and select initiatives to move forward with.
The DRI plan looks to advance four goals for Watkins Glen. They are summarized in the survey:
"Downtown living--Build on the strong sense of place in Watkins Glen by increasing walkability, providing a range of housing types and promoting downtown as a mixed-use district.
Culture and entertainment--Create an active downtown environment for residents and visitors by supporting arts and cultural organizations, nightlife, youth-oriented activities and regular events.
Economic development--Attract high-paying jobs, skilled workers, and young professionals by promoting year-round local-based businesses and investment in infrastructure.
Quality of life--Promote Watkins Glen's identity as a vibrant community for residents, businesses, and visitors."
The LPC meeting reinforced these goals by highlighting high-quality year-round housing, downtown activities, increased employment opportunities, park assets, streetscape improvements, green initiatives, aesthetic improvements and preserving downtown character.
"There are a couple of standalone projects that are pretty substantial," said Judy McKinney Cherry, executive director for the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development and co-chair of the Local Planning Committee in a telephone interview. She mentioned with so many projects a real transformation will be seen. "I believe that it is a combination--two or three of these projects, the smaller ones, if they were just standalone, and we were doing them independently, I am not sure they would be transformational--but when you start to put three, four, five of these multi-point/multi-site pieces together you are going to see it." She also mentioned how important the housing projects will be and the additional spending those projects can bring to the village.
The LPC noted project funding through the DRI is reimbursable, meaning a bridge loan or other preliminary funding may be needed before a payment is received from the state. However, Cherry explained M&T Bank has put in a proposal to provide low-interest money for DRI projects. She said she sees this as a way to clear hurdles to get projects moving forward.
Accompanying this story is a draft listing of the projects compiled at the beginning of February. This is not a final list. Of the four goal areas, some $13.1 million is shown as DRI funding, $26.6 million in other funding for a total of $39.8 in total project cost. Leveraging money has always been a priority of the funding initiative.
To see further details of the proposals visit http://flxgateway.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Watkins-Glen-DRI-LPC-Meeting-6-Presentation-February-15-2018.pdf.
The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WatkinsGlenDRISurvey.
The final public engagement event is Wednesday, March 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community Center.