In its fifth year, the statewide program will invest $200 million in up to 20 downtowns. Communities were nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation. Winners are provided with funding for the much-needed infrastructure to ensure equitable and accessible future growth while improving the wellbeing of traditionally underserved communities.
The village was one of two communities in the Hudson region to win. The other was Ossining, which is connected to Haverstraw through the NY Waterway ferry across the Hudson River. Each will receive $10 million to develop a strategic investment plan and implement key projects that advance the community's vision."This was our fourth or fifth time applying and this was the charm, apparently," Mayor Michael Kohut told Patch. "We sistered up with the village of Ossining because we share a ferry and share the river and thought there could be connections between us — and the state obviously thought that as well."
Village officials have a list of projects they're working on or want to, starting with supporting their quest for private redevelopment of the 9-acre chair factory site on the waterfront at the widest part of the Hudson River."We think money can be spent there on infrastructure to design and build both a residential and commercial project down at the foot of Main Street," Kohut said.
They also envision a cultural arts center in a vacant house of worship, and other community projects to help bring people into Haverstraw both to live, to patronize local businesses and to start some themselves.
"It's going to jump-start revitalization of the business district," he said.
One of the perks of the program, now in its fifth year, is that New York also helps out with expertise. Kohut expects their experts in early 2022.
"I think it's the new year when the planners come in and we talk brass tacks but I haven't gotten that information yet," he said.
Hochul announced the award in Ossining Monday.
"Our downtowns are the hubs for communities to connect and thrive, and as a former local official I know personally how transformative this funding can be to boost quality of life," she said. "Through our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we will continue to give communities, like Ossining and Haverstraw, across the state the extra boost they need to recover from the pandemic and create more viable, livable, walkable downtowns."
Here's what the state said about the two villages:
Haverstraw's downtown is a high-density neighborhood close to the Hudson riverfront. The village aims to make this area an inclusive, lively, 21st century urban center where residents and visitors can live, work, learn and play. Haverstraw has stayed committed to downtown revitalization with multiple completed and ongoing projects, including multiple mixed-use developments, a new waterfront esplanade, and streetscape improvements. Building on this work, Haverstraw aims to redevelop vacant space, expand public space, increase the economic activity of and access to the waterfront, as well as embrace their diverse history.
Ossining's DRI will focus on the Waterfront District. With a downtown that is on both the State and the National Historic Registers, Ossining wants to use their existing assets, including a rich history, public amenities, engaged residents, and an innovative business community, to build on previous successes and strengthen their downtown to have the greatest economic impact. Previous successes include a mixed-use development with a waterfront park, promenade, beach, and fishing pier on a former brownfield, the Sing Sing Kill Greenway, and the ongoing Sing Sing Prison Museum project. Building on these projects, Ossining aims to improve community services, increase access to and the economic impact of the waterfront, expand public space, and repurpose areas for development.
The Mid-Hudson Region Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Haverstraw and Ossining as the 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, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
- 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 DRI strategic investment plan;
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.
Haverstraw and Ossining now join the cities of Middletown, Kingston, New Rochelle and Peekskill, which were the Mid-Hudson Region's winners in the first four DRI rounds, respectively.
"Rockland County's Office of Economic Development and Tourism has supported the Village of Haverstraw in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative process the last few years and we are thrilled to see our combined efforts pay off," County Executive Ed Day told Patch. "Haverstraw is already a beautiful and historic place to visit; the infusion of these state dollars will lead to even greater things for the village and all of Rockland County."
Led by the Department of State, an interagency team of state experts will now work with Haverstraw and Ossining to begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize their downtowns with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant.
Local Planning Committees made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders will lead the effort, supported by a team of private-sector experts and state planners.
The Strategic Investment Plans will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with each community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The Strategic Investment Plans will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community's vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI's fifth round will be complete in 2022.
"The $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding will have a transformative impact on the Village of Haverstraw," Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski said. "The state's investment will further the local efforts to create a dynamic riverfront community that encourages new residents and businesses to establish roots, and welcomes visitors to explore all that the village has to offer. It's an exciting day, and I'd like to thank Governor Hochul."
By, Lanning Taliaferro,Patch Staff