Downtown Olean Transformed for Improved Safety, Walkability and Sustainability
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Priority Project Supports Downtown Revitalization in Cattaraugus County
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of the Walkable Olean North Union Street Transformation Project. The project redeveloped streetscapes and integrated green infrastructure along North Union Street to improve automobile and pedestrian traffic safety and sustainability. By creating a walkable community in the heart of Olean, Walkable Olean contributes to the economic development of the city's central business district. Walkable Olean was named a priority project by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council in 2011.
"This project will empower the local community, attract new opportunities and contribute to the economic resurgence in Olean and the entire region," Governor Cuomo said. "Our downtowns are the hearts of our communities, and by investing in them we help build a stronger, more vibrant and more prosperous New York."
This project addressed the long-term deterioration of Olean's infrastructure along North Union Street and many long over-due upgrades. The aim of the project was to improve traffic flow and to bring a new ambiance to the street that would, in turn, help revitalize the businesses along the street. During the project, Olean businesses on North Union Street made upgrades during the project to complement the redevelopment of the streetscapes, including new sidewalks, facades and awnings. In addition to the redeveloped streetscapes, the project also upgraded water and sewer lines, street lights and a railroad crossing.
Walkable Olean was supported by a $865,000 Green Innovation Grant from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation to integrate green infrastructure, including stormwater street trees, bioretention, porous pavement, and rain garden, into the roadway reconstruction project and set the bar for greener streetscape design. Additionally, by streamlining traffic and easing congestion, the project will reduce emissions and improve sustainability. Walkable Olean also received part of a $1 million grant from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council through Empire State Development.
City of Olean Mayor William Aiello said, "The transformation of our business district along North Union Street not only included roundabouts and a median, but our water and sewer lines and our streetlights were all upgraded. The unsightly wires that strung along the street are now buried underground and our railroad crossing has been updated."
Jeff Belt, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and SolEpoxy President, said, "The WNYREDC has worked hard to encourage redevelopment of downtowns and main streets across our region and Walkable Olean is one project I’m particularly proud of. Our council advocated for this project and led the way with first money in, followed by our partners at EFC and the federal government. We believe in Olean because Olean is a beautiful city with outstanding assets that we are leveraging by creating an efficient, walkable ‘destination downtown."
Satish K. Tripathi, Western New York Regional Economic Development Co-Chair and University at Buffalo President, said, "Our region has made tremendous progress to promote the principles of smart growth as an economic development strategy. And, with the North Union Street Transformation project we are seeing real signs of economic development progress in Olean. As one of our first WNYREDC priority projects, Walkable Olean has returned the North Union Street area to a more walkable, people and business-friendly destination."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "A walk down North Union Street offers an up-close experience of what we are doing to revitalize New York State’s town centers. The North Union Redevelopment project is in step with the WNYREDC’s vision of smart growth strategies that fight sprawl, increase investment in downtowns and encourage mixed-use development that creates opportunities for both businesses and residents — and it will bring new life to Olean."
Sabrina M. Ty, President and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation said, "Governor Cuomo’s Consolidated Funding Application process and the Green Innovation Grant Program provide EFC the opportunity to partner with communities, such as the City of Olean, to demonstrate the benefits of greening their infrastructure projects. The Walkable Olean project highlights many of the positive impacts of green roadway construction, including: walkability, traffic calming, stormwater management and reduced localized flooding."
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, "The Walkable Olean project is another example of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to safe and efficient transportation, while preserving the quality of our communities throughout New York State. North Union Street has been transformed into a “complete” street that not only calms traffic, but also provides safer travel for pedestrians and bicyclists, while contributing to the economic revitalization of the city of Olean."
Senator Catharine Young said, “The Walkable Olean project has created an open, pedestrian friendly landscape that is attracting residents and visitors, and reinvigorating of our city’s downtown. With the first phase of the project done, the City of Olean has taken an incredible step forward fostering policies that promote preservation, adaptive reuse, multi-use spaced and state-of-the-art housing. The city also has made tremendous progress updating important infrastructure necessities, like water and sewer lines, to provide long-term savings to taxpayers. The state investment has been instrumental for the work done in Olean.”
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio said, “The completion of the Walkable Olean North Union Street Project is an important example of how infrastructure projects enhance small businesses and build city cores. It is wonderful that we are moving cities back to the way they were in the past, with neighbors able to walk and talk with each other. This project has enhanced Olean’s downtown and will continue to revitalize the city for years to come.”
About the Regional Economic Development Councils
The Regional Economic Development Council initiative is a key component of Governor Cuomo's approach to State investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. After five rounds of the REDC process, nearly $4 billion has been awarded to more than 4,100 job creation and community development projects consistent with each regions strategic plans, projecting to create and retain more than 200,000 jobs. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
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