ST. REGIS FALLS — Revitalization may be coming to the St. Regis River.

A bill that would designate the St. Regis River as an inland waterway, making it eligible for revitalization grants from the state, passed both houses of the state Legislature, according to a news release.

Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, sponsored the bill in their respective houses.

“Our waterfronts are tremendous assets,” Little said in a release announcing the votes.

“Well-planned stewardship of this natural resource can create a real ‘win-win’ by helping communities find the best balance of environmental protection with maximum economic opportunity. I’m really pleased working with Assemblyman Jones that we could get this legislation approved by the Legislature today and we look forward to Governor Cuomo’s support signing it into law,” she said.

If the proposed bill becomes law, the communities surrounding the St. Regis River will be allowed to form a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, an outlined plan for revitalization that would have to pass through local government. State funding is available to help form the programs, which can help lead to other grants to support revitalization for the communities.

“Revitalized waterfronts will allow our communities to showcase their natural beauty, helping boost tourism efforts and attract new investment,” Jones said in the release.

“This designation is a huge win for our communities, and will open up grant opportunities for the several neighborhoods that surround the St. Regis River. I’m grateful for Senator Little’s support on this initiative, and I’m calling upon the governor to lend his support as well to help strengthen the North Country community.”

The St. Regis River passes through the town of Bombay and Akwesasne in Franklin County, as well as several municipalities in St. Lawrence County. Both Franklin County communities will be eligible to benefit from the St. Regis River’s new designation.

“It opens them up to revitalize the waterfront of St. Regis,“ said Jones in a phone call to The Telegram. The community will be eligible for revitalization grants when the bill is signed into law, Jones said.

The village of Malone is currently involved in turning the west bank of the Salmon River near the bridge that carries Main Street over the waterway into a park using a $175,000 grant obtained through the waterfront revitalization program. The project has been in the discussion phase for roughly 15 years; actual construction began over the winter.

The just-completed work included the construction of a small concrete plaza near the intersection of Duane Street and Harrison Place and the installation of new fencing, benches and lights. The next part of the project involves the demolition of a derelict building adjacent to the park location.

A second phase of the project — for which there is currently no grant funding — includes construction of a stairway leading down to the riverbank and platforms for river viewing, as well as the possible construction of a performing arts space near the water.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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