Lowville aims to go ‘all in’ to win DRI funding

The “downtown” zone targeted for Lowville’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program proposal runs from the traffic “Y” at the fountain on North State Street down to the South State Street “Y” where state Routes 12 and 26 diverge again and east as far as James Street in order to encompase one potential project area and the railroad tracks. This year’s grants can be either $10 million or $20 million to commemorate the program’s fifth anniversary. Provided by Naturally Lewis

LOWVILLE — After positive feedback from its first Downtown Revitalization Initiative application in 2019, the village is working to up the ante this year, with officials hoping to offer better projects for this year’s submission to win a multimillion dollar grant.

Because it is the program’s fifth anniversary, double the money is at stake.

According to the program’s web site, a total of $200 million will be granted. Each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils in the state will either award two communities a $10 million grant each or one community a $20 million grant.

Previously, each region awarded one $10 million grant to a community.

Proposals, due by Sept. 15, must show that the municipality has a vision for revitalizing a well-defined downtown area and a strategic plan to manifest that vision.

The village’s plan to come up with the best combination of projects that invest in the downtown area between the two “Ys” in State Street — from the fountain on North State Street to where state Routes 12 and 26 meet on the south end of the street — involves multi-levels of engagement.

This year’s committee including village officials, the county planning department and representatives from local economic development agencies, will meet with residents, businesses and outside entrepreneurs to see what is possible, according to county Planning Director Casandra Buell.

To that end, community engagement will take its first leap when village and county representatives will be at the next Food Truck Friday, a popular local event held at the county Fairgrounds, to give residents the chance to see what projects are included so far in the application and share some feedback or ideas about what could be included.

“Right now we’re still in the solicitation phase. I think we’ve only got one or two (applications) back from private business owners,” she said. “We want to dream, but we also don’t want to make it unrealistic ... we’re still hashing out the details of most of the biggest projects. We’re still in the infancy stage of the application.”

A number of projects have been brought forward by the committee from the 2019 effort, while others have either already been completed or may not make sense for the current context, Mrs. Buell said.

The Rails and Trails project that would create a walking and bicycling path with a rail bike element from Kraft-Heinz to the Lewis County JCC Education Center on Maple Ridge along the railroad tracks; the Double Play Community Center; a splash pad and other improvements at Veteran’s Park in the center of the village; and the development of the large free public parking lot in the center of the village known as the Commons making it more friendly for walking, bicycles, handicap accessibility and interspersed green are among those being brought forward.

The “downtown grant fund” that would allow existing downtown businesses and property owners to make various improvements to their buildings will also be included again in the new proposal Mrs. Buell said.

Some of the businesses and projects that were part of the previous proposal have already been completed or are underway, including improvements at Cafe Z and the Judge’s Quarters Bed & Breakfast, but even those businesses may have more ideas that have surfaced.

The village is hoping to find “innovative” projects that will enhance the historic downtown area related to affordable housing, child care, user-friendliness, walk-ability, recreation, community health and marketing outlets for local products, among others. Projects must be submitted no later than Aug. 30 to be considered.

Lowville will be competing against villages, towns and cities throughout Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties that submit proposals.

The consultant helping Lowville leaders and the local DRI committee craft their pitch is once again Rochester-based Bergmann, PC.

The past four grant winners have been Potsdam, Saranac Lake, Watertown and Plattsburgh. Only Lewis and Hamilton counties have yet to have a municipality awarded.

To learn more about the application, go to the Aug. 27 Food Truck Friday at the Lewis County Fairgrounds pavilion, 5485 Bostwick St., between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., email for more information at lowvilledri@lewiscounty.org or go to the DRI page at the county economic development website, www.naturallylewis.com, under the “Initiatives” pull down menu.

The the original version of this article, which incorrectly stated the name of the regional groupings for DRI consdieration, was corrected to indicate the proper name of Regional Economic Development Councils.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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