New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Saranac Lake today to announce that the Adirondack village is the latest community to receive state Downtown Redevelopment Initiative funds.
The state of New York’s Downtown Redevelopment Initiative – or DRI – is a competitive grant program that provides $10 million to local communities for economic development. In Saranac Lake Tuesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that there had been 105 applicants for 10 grants – one awarded to each Regional Economic Development Council Region. The Democrat told the crowd at the Hotel Saranac that the village has won this year’s regional DRI grant. “Congratulations. You are first place winners of $10 million." The crowd erupts into cheers and Governor Cuomo continues: “So, congratulations to you. You did it! And this is just going to keep the momentum going. And by the way, it's not just going to be about Saranac Lake, because this is like dropping a pebble in a pond and there's concentric circles that go out from it. And [Lake] Placid is synergizing Saranac Lake, is synergizing North Elba, is synergizing Keene, and that's what we're feeling. So it's not just about Saranac Lake. It's just another big boost for the North Country and everything that's going on in what has been a steady, steady climb towards progress.”
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau sayst for a village of 5,400 people, $10 million can be leveraged for numerous projects and is more than just seed money. “It’s do or die money. That kind of money can make all the difference in the world. We’re a small community. We’re the only community in the Adirondacks, by the way, that received this kind of DRI award. And we are a hamlet zone. So the design of the Adirondack Park is for hamlet zones to be the focuses, the foci, of growth and development and population where we keep our lakes and our mountains pristine. So this really has a dramatic effect within the Park.”
Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky noted that winning communities focus on place-based investment. “So when Saranac wants to expand greenspace or improve the streetscape or enhance the arts and cultural activities, do more mixed use development, create more 24/7-365 concentrated activity those are all the kinds of projects that resonate with the committee that’s selecting winners. So your project has elements of all of that.”
This was the second time Saranac Lake applied for DRI funds. Rabideau listed a number of strategic projects, including moving the Pendragon Theatre to the downtown, under consideration. “We have a façade program. We have a connector road to enlarge our downtown by the railroad station. Those are just a couple of examples. And then if our Pendragon Theatre locates where they plan to locate we want to make that Woodruff Street block to the restaurant sector a major thoroughfare. That’s a lot of synergy right there. But that’s the kind of strategic planning we’ve been doing for the last couple of years.”
This is the third round of Downtown Redevelopment Initiative funding. The other two North Country communities that have been allocated $10 million grants are Plattsburgh and Watertown.