MASSENA — More than 20 participants took part in Thursday’s first public information meeting to address the village of Massena’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

But, Robert Murphy Jr. said, the work has been going on for some time. Mr. Murphy is a community planner with Barton & Loguidice, the plan’s consultants.

“The planning document really sets the stage for what the current issues are, and what the possibilities are in the future for achieving the community’s waterfront vision. We kicked things off last summer after we were retained by the village to help push forward both the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan and the implementation project which was simultaneously funded by Department of State for the park on Water Street, right on the Grasse River,” Mr. Murphy said during the virtual meeting held via Zoom.

He said the first step in the plan’s process was to complete the Waterfront Revitalization Plan, “which will then provide the necessary public feedback and vision for what the waterfront park will look like.”

He said the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan will “also produce recommendations that go beyond just the Water Street Park.”

Massena discusses vision for waterfront

The Massena Waterfront Revitalization committee is focused on water-based recreation and waterfront dining opportunities with views of the Grasse River, pictured Friday. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

Barton & Loguidice has been working with the Massena Local Waterfront Revitalization Committee, which includes Monique Chatland, James Murphy, Michael McCabe, William Fiacco, Jason Hendricks, Steve Nadeau, Marina LaBaff, Nathan LaShomb and Peter Skomsky.

They’ve identified five draft priorities for the project area, which includes the Grasse River east to west through the village, and the downtown area from north at Maple and North Main streets to south at Main and Water streets. Some of the areas identified came from previous Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan efforts.

The first priority was to increase waterfront trail connectivity along the Grasse River and connect to the Aluminum Trail. There would also be connections to commercial establishments with stops for everyone in the family.

“This kind of enables both benefits for local residents having better access for recreational opportunities, and also, for business communities, better access to those local residents,” Mr. Murphy said.

A second priority was to create a multi-generational playground and park amenities, including a dog park. He said the need for multi-generational amenities and recreational amenities in the waterfront and downtown area had been brought up at several meetings.

“There’s a wide array of demographics in the immediate downtown area that’s been changing over the years, and having amenities that really cater not only to young families, but also the senior population, and for our canine friends as part of households, to allow folks to walk their dogs downtown safely, but also to access our parks and access the water itself,” Mr. Murphy said.

The group’s third priority was to address ice jams and slab flooding on Pratt Place and the Water Street Park. They said that was the most urgent need.

“There’s been a history of ice jamming and then floods associated with those ice jams in the Water Street area,” Mr. Murphy said.

The final two priorities were to address economic development focused on access to waterfront recreation, including parking, streetscape, signage, tourism, and programming and events; and waterfront commercial dining opportunities with visual access to the river as well as physical access to the trail network.

“That helps the business community, but also provides services and destinations for local residents,” Mr. Murphy said.

Part of the plan presented to participants on Thursday included recommended actions after an inventory and analysis of the project area.

“Any planning process has three main components, the first being an inventory, an assessment of where you’re at today,” he said, noting the meeting would help them conclude the inventory phase “to better understand issues and opportunities facing downtown and the Grasse River.”

The recommended actions included redevelopment near the former low dam site and former lumber yard; redeveloping an underutilized lot just upstream of the Parker Avenue bridge; providing access to the water at the East Orvis Street park and wastewater treatment parcel; and reusing the former Massena Building Supply parcel.

In addition, the recommendations included developing a small commercial marina on the Grasse River; developing a Water Street parcel for park space; and hosting special commercial district events.

“What about programming? What sorts of events would bring people perhaps across the Canadian border when that reopens, or just the neighborhood,” Mr. Murphy said.

The group expects to have a preliminary plan completed and a community open house in the late summer. The State Environmental Quality Review and New York State Department of State referral is scheduled for late fall, along with a village board public hearing and final plan.

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