Village of Cape Vincent to Receive $4.5 Million; Villages of Lyons Falls & Waddington to Receive $2.25 Million Each
New $100 Million NY Forward Program Builds on Momentum of the Successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative to Support a More Equitable Downtown Recovery for New York's Smaller and Rural Communities
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Village of Cape Vincent will receive $4.5 million and the Villages of Lyons Falls and Waddington will each receive $2.25 million in funding as the North Country region winners of the first round of NY Forward. Building on the momentum of the State's successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same "Plan-then-Act" strategy as the DRI to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York's smaller and rural communities. As part of NY Forward Round One, two to three awards will be made to smaller communities in each of the state's ten economic development regions to support development and implementation of revitalization plans for their downtowns.
"My administration is committed to making sure all of New York's communities thrive, and strategic investments like this will help smaller and rural communities reach their full potential," Governor Hochul said. "We are thrilled to see these funds go towards Cape Vincent, Lyons Falls and Waddington, and look forward to getting projects underway that will strengthen their downtowns."
NY Forward is a central component of the State's economic development efforts, working together with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), to accelerate and expand the revitalization of New York's downtowns. NY Forward serves smaller communities with historic character that distinguishes them from the larger, more urban central business districts typically funded through DRI. NY Forward communities are walkable, less dense areas that serve the immediate local community, and are more local in nature - focusing on the immediately surrounding residential or rural agricultural centric development.
Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown through a slate of readily implementable projects. The Department of State will provide enhanced technical assistance to better support smaller communities and fund projects appropriately scaled to the size of each community. Projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities.
The Village of Cape Vincent is a small-town, rural community with unique scenic, historical and natural resources. Cape Vincent's downtown is a commercial and residential area. A Village Green where concerts and other activities are held sits at the center, and the St. Lawrence River runs parallel to the downtown's main thoroughfare. Many private and public investments within the village are underway ,creating momentum for additional revitalization efforts, and the Village is committed to preserving the essential qualities that make it a desirable place to live while improving the local economy by promoting compatible residential and small business growth. To realize its vision for revitalization, Cape Vincent seeks to create safer streets and enhance gateways to the community, improve an international port of entry, develop mixed-use and multi-story buildings and improve connectivity to the waterfront.
The Village of Lyons Falls is located at the confluence of Moose and Black River and is situated on a 70-foot waterfall. The Village has undergone significant changes over the past 20 years with the closure of the Lyons Falls Pulp and Paper Mill, but recent public and private investment, local planning efforts and infrastructure improvements have begun to spur redevelopment. The Village seeks to build on these efforts by increasing recreational tourism opportunities focused on the Moose and Black Rivers, spurring economic development and celebrating the rich history and beauty of the area.
Waddington's downtown is a well-defined, compact and walkable business district intertwined with single and multiple family residential structures along with an eclectic mixture of 19th century wood and stone multi-story buildings and 20th century utilitarian architecture ready for redevelopment. Lifestyle and work habits changed by the COVID-19 pandemic have made Waddington an attractive location for residents of all ages, resulting in public and private investments that have further created economic opportunities within the downtown. Waddington seeks to build on these investments by enhancing streetscapes and wayfinding, redeveloping historical mixed-use buildings and connecting the downtown to the waterfront.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "New York's new and innovative downtown revitalization program, NY Forward, supports a more equitable recovery for our state's smaller downtown communities. Cape Vincent, Lyons Falls and Waddington all have the historic small-town charm and scenic natural resources, combined with future growth potential, that make them ideal communities to receive NY Forward funding. I look forward to seeing each community's strategic plans to realize the full potential of these downtowns."
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope knight said, "As the North Country's first-round NY Forward recipients, the Villages of Cape Vincent, Lyons Falls and Waddington represent the beauty and charm of these small and rural communities that make them wonderful places to live, work and visit. Locally led strategic plans will lead to projects aimed at increasing the economic health and vibrancy of the villages, while preserving what makes them unique."
North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair James McKenna said, "On behalf of the Council, thanks to Governor Hochul for supporting smaller communities through the NY Forward program. Through the NY Forward program, the projects supported through the funding awarded to Cape Vincent, Lyons Falls and Waddington will catalyze new investments and growth, generating further regional economic development."
State Senator Dan Stec said, "Waddington is a town with a great deal of potential and opportunity for further growth and development. The NY Forward funding announced today will help the community strengthen its public spaces and boost its local economy. This will have a positive impact on Waddington families and businesses alike."
Assemblymember Scott Gray said, "It is welcome news that the villages of Cape Vincent and Waddington will both be receiving funding from the NY Forward program. I look forward to working with the Department of State and local elected officials in offering any assistance needed with these revitalization projects to help ensure the future prosperity of both villages."
Assemblymember Ken Blankenbush said, "The village of Lyons Falls will benefit greatly from this NY Forward funding. It is critical that we give equal attention to our small rural communities as we do to the big cities. I look forward to seeing the revitalization projects that will take place in Lyons Falls and how they will help its continued success."
Waddington Mayor Mike Zagrobelny said, "The NY Forward award will be a game changer for Waddington, and build on the incredible work that local residents and business owners have done for years. As Mayor of Waddington, I am grateful to Governor Hochul and her clear commitment to rebuilding and strengthening the economy not only in in Waddington but throughout the North Country. Our successful application would not have been possible without the hard work of the small committee of local residents who created the draft. Their commitment to community, innovative thought, and cooperative work in completing this application is just one example of the generosity and volunteerism that makes Waddington such a special place. Residents and visitors to Waddington past and present have long recognized Waddington as the hidden gem of the St. Lawrence River. Thanks to Governor Hochul's recognition and support of the NY Forward program, Waddington will continue to shine even brighter."
Village of Cape Vincent Mayor Jerry Golden said, "It is very exciting news for Cape Vincent to be honored with an award from New York Forward this year. We have been investing so much in our community not only with money but hard work to make our community special for not only our residents for for all that visit us througout the year. We are all very thankful to the commission and Governor Hochul for honoring us with this ward. Thank you."
Village of Lyons Falls Mayor Donna Dolhof said, "We are so grateful to New York State for its investment in our small community. This grant is a game changer for our Village and we are excited to use these funds to move our economic development plan forward"
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered the criteria below before recommending these communities as nominees:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
- There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
- The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
- The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a Strategic Investment Plan;
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of NY Forward funds; and
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.
Cape Vincent, Lyons Falls and Waddington will now begin the process of developing Strategic Investment Plans to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead these efforts, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community's vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.