April 24, 2024
Albany, NY

During Earth Week, Governor Hochul Announces More Than $5.4 Million in Smart Growth Grant Awards to Communities in Catskills and Adirondacks

During Earth Week, Governor Hochul Announces More Than $5.4 Million in Smart Growth Grant Awards to Communities in Catskills and Adirondacks

Funded Projects Will Support Housing Initiatives, Enhance Cultural Amenities and Recreation Opportunities, and Spur Economic Growth that is Compatible with Environmental Protection

Announcement Pairs with Groundbreaking of 80-Car Peekamoose Blue Hole Parking Area Designed to Promote Safe and Sustainable Catskill Visitation

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced more than $5.4 million in awards to 48 communities and organizations in the Catskill and Adirondack parks for smart growth initiatives. The funded projects will support regions renowned for connecting visitors to nature by improving and expanding recreation opportunities; addressing hamlet infrastructure, energy, and affordable housing needs; providing visitor center, theater, and museum enhancements; improving accessibility and safety issues; and supporting comprehensive planning efforts.

“Smart Growth grants represent a vital investment in our communities, fostering sustainable development, economic prosperity, and enhanced quality of life for all New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “With these grants, we are empowering local leaders to implement forward-thinking solutions that address pressing challenges while laying the foundation for a brighter, more prosperous future. My administration’s focus on the housing crisis is central to this round of grant awards with funding being directed to local code revisions and project pre-development costs for affordable housing.”

Smart growth is an approach to community planning and development which promotes land use in a way that creates livable, sustainable, and equitable communities. Smart growth can provide the right balance between development and preservation, promoting several land use planning principles like the renewal of land use patterns that once came naturally in the Adirondack and Catskill parks.

Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said, “Local government partners are central to the success of DEC’s Adirondack and Catskill park preservation efforts, and by investing directly in park communities, Governor Hochul is showing how natural resource protection and economic development can be balanced. Empowering municipalities to innovate, collaborate, and focus on long-term resilience is an essential compliment to the state’s aggressive protection efforts and helps to create lasting partnerships and the park communities of the future.”

Today’s funding announcement complements years of State action to support smart growth planning and implementation of sustainable projects. This includes the start of construction of a new parking area and accessible connector trail for visitors to the Peekamoose Blue Hole and nearby Rondout Creek area in the Sundown Wild Forest, town of Denning, Ulster County, that will promote safe and sustainable visitation. The 80-car parking area will allow the growing number of visitors to more easily park vehicles, helping prevent unauthorized parking along roadsides, and provide a direct route to the Blue Hole. Previously, visitors would be dispersed amongst numerous, separate parking areas along the entirety of the three-mile Peekamoose Valley Riparian Corridor.

The new 3,270-foot accessible connector trail, in conjunction with the new parking area, will help redirect traffic and provide visitors a more straightforward, enjoyable experience without endangering public safety or negatively impacting natural resources. In recent years, increased visitation to these popular areas resulted in unsafe parking and hiking, and increased rescues, trash, and other environmental damage. Visitors are reminded that a permit is required for use of the entire corridor between May 15 and Sept. 15 annually and can be obtained through DEC’s website.

Smart Growth Grants

DEC’s Smart Growth grant program supports capital projects and community development initiatives that link environmental protection, economic development, and community livability within the special protective conditions of the Forest Preserve. Below is a list of the 2024 funded projects.

Adirondack Parks Projects – 36 awards totaling $4,386,247.

Projects addressing affordable housing needs:

  • Housing Assistance Program of Essex County: $300,000 – Adirondack Roots Regional Housing Pre-Development Program
  • Northern Forest Center, Inc.: $125,000 – Catalyzing Housing Development in Adirondack Communities
  • Warren County Planning Department: $105,288 – Thriving Hamlets: A 21st Century Approach to Hamlet Development

Projects focusing on recreation, environment, sustainable economic growth and other smart growth priorities:

Essex County

  • Village of Lake Placid: $300,000 – Trailhead of the Adirondack Rail Trail
  • Village of Saranac Lake: $300,000 – Remediation of soil for construction of new Pendragon Theatre
  • Essex County Industrial Development Agency (IDA): $125,000 – Agriculture Producer Revitalization Microenterprise grant
  • Town of Keene: $125,000 – East Branch Community Trails and Hamlet Connectivity
  • Town of Newcomb: $125,000 – Newcomb Welcome Center
  • PRIDE of Ticonderoga: $122,000 – Perpetual Ice: Integrated Recreational and Economic Growth Facility
  • Town of North Elba: $115,000 – Community Pump Track
  • Town of Essex: $103,355 – Whallonsburg Hamlet – Road Study and Engineering Design
  • Champlain Area Trails.: $100,000 – Increasing Permanent Public Access to Trails in the Champlain Valley of the Adirondack Park
  • Village of Saranac Lake: $100,000 – Feasibility Study for the Lake Flower Avenue Streetscape
  • Town of Jay: $66,960 – Comprehensive Plan
  • Town of Westport: $65,000 – Comprehensive Plan
  • Fort Ticonderoga Association: $30,000 – Research Center Preservation

Franklin County

  • Town of Tupper Lake: $300,000 – Train Station Rail Trail Readiness Site Enhancements
  • Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District: $125,000 – Adirondack Park Road Stream Crossing Management Planning
  • Town of Harrietstown: $122,000 – Municipal Park Expansion

Fulton County

  • Fulton County: $135,000 – Great Sacandaga Lake Museum and Visitor Center
  • Town of Caroga: $99,700 – Wheelerville Trails: Phase Two

Hamilton County

  • Adirondack Historical Association: $125,000 – The African American Experience in the Adirondacks permanent exhibition
  • Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts: $125,000 – Purchase of Potters Resort Property
  • ADKACTION.ORG, INC.: $124,396 – Pollinator and Recreator Friendly Capped Landfill Restoration
  • Village of Speculator: $65,000 – Comprehensive Plan
  • Indian Lake Theater: $26,475 – Building Access and Safety Project

Herkimer County

  • Town of Webb: $125,000 – McCaulley Mountain Snowmaking Equipment Repair and Upgrades
  • Old Forge Library: $62,745 – Geothermal Heating and Cooling Hydronic Conversion

Lewis County

  • Lewis County Department of Planning: $125,000 – Winter Recreation Trail Development Plan
  • Lewis County Department of Planning: $125,000 – Broadband Expansion
  • Town of Greig: $52,083 – Comprehensive Plan

Oneida County

  • Town of Forestport: $42,245 – Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention- Signage and Educational Materials

Warren County

  • Town of Lake George: $125,000 – McPhillips Preserve at French Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Advanced Hiking Trail
  • Town of Lake Luzerne: $125,000 – Lake Luzerne Destination Playground
  • Town of Bolton: $124,000 – Wastewater Mitigation Project
  • Town of Hague: $25,000 – Comprehensive Plan Update

CATSKILL PARK PROJECTS – 12 awards totaling $1,075,021

Projects addressing affordable housing needs:

  • Town of Hunter: $125,000 – Resilient Comprehensive Plan and Pro-Housing Community Local Law

Projects focusing on recreation, environment, sustainable economic growth and other smart growth priorities:

Multi-county (Greene, Ulster, and Delaware)

  • Catskill Center for Conservation and Development: $148,078 – Enhance Visitors’ Experience in the Catskill Park

Delaware County

  • Town of Colchester: $91,000 –Comprehensive Plan Update
  • Village of Margaretville: $50,000 – Comprehensive Plan Update
  • Town of Middletown: $50,000 – Comprehensive Plan Update

Greene County

  • Town of Prattsville: $125,000 – Prattsville Park
  • Village of Tannersville: $125,000 – Upper Lake Park
  • New York New Jersey Trail Conference: $73,443 – Catskill Trail Conservation Program
  • Village of Tannersville - $47,500 – Rip Van Winkle Lake Park/Huckleberry Trail Signage
  • Mountain Top Arboretum: $35,000 – Interpretive Signage

Ulster County

  • Town of Shandaken: $125,000 – Shandaken Parks Project – Glenbrook Park Rehabilitation
  • Town of Shandaken: $80,000 – Comprehensive Plan

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “The Smart growth formula is particularly important in the Adirondack and Catskill parks as we seek to grow our historic municipal centers while also preserving these magnificent natural resources. The Department of State and DEC Smart Growth programs work in tandem to achieve a healthy balance between growth and conservation in these Parks. Congratulations to DEC for further advancing the cause of smart, sustainable growth in New York State.”

Adirondack Park Agency Executive Director Barbara Rice said, “Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, the Smart Growth Grant Program continues to help advance well planned, community inspired projects that build on the uniqueness of the 101 towns and villages that comprise the park. Vibrant and diverse communities are absolutely essential to ensure the long-term viability of the Adirondack and Catskill parks. Smart Growth funding helps make this happen.”

Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Steve McNally said, “The AATV and its members appreciate the investment DEC’s smart growth program provides in the Adirondack Park. Whether we have development pressure or economic struggles, pretty much all of our communities have issues to deal with and this is a great opportunity to put money toward planning and projects that we are invested in locally.”

Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) Economic Development Director Barbara Puglisi and Catskill Watershed Corporation Executive Director Jason Merwin said, “The Catskill Watershed Corporation is pleased with the announcement of awards for numerous Watershed communities within the Catskill Park region. These grants will assist local communities with long term planning objectives, recreation, tourism promotion, and overall community vitality. These smart growth grants are consistent with needs of our member towns and CWC’s dual missions of water quality protection and community sustainability.”

The grants announced today are supported by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The 2024-25 State Budget will maintain the EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program's history. The EPF is a critical resource for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects. In addition, the 2024-25 Enacted State Budget continues to support New York’s Forest Preserve with $10 million to the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserve for sustainability and stewardship projects, as well as funding for locally important initiatives including $250,000 to the Catskills Visitor Center and $180,000 for the Cary Institute to support the Catskills Science Collaborative working to further scientific research and environmental monitoring in the Catskills.

For further detail on the grants awarded and information on smart growth planning and implementation activity within the Adirondack and Catskill parks, visit DEC’s website.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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