POTSDAM — Potsdam is number one in the North Country region as the winner of the $10 million state grant for the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
State, county and local officials gathered to hear the news delivered from Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in the third floor conference room of Clarkson University’s Old Main building.
Officials in Potsdam and the North Country region, which includes St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties, had been on pins and needles, waiting for the announcement.
Village Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss saw this day coming back in late May when he told the Watertown Daily Times, “so, this is our year.”
He was pointing to the previous recipients of the $10 million DRI grant where each of those communities has a downtown theater.
At the time Hanss made his prediction, the state announced it was funding $5.6 million toward a $26 million renovation project of Clarkson University’s Old Snell Hall into 59 affordable housing apartments by The Vecino Group is a feather in the cap of the village.
Old Snell also houses a theater on its first floor which is about 98,000 square feet in size and seats about 500 people. That theater will be part of the renovation and will be occupied by the Arts Council and Shipley Center for Innovation.
He said having the North County Children’s Museum on the western edge of the focus area and Old Snell Hall on the eastern edge makes for a couple of big cultural anchors downtown.
In addition to focusing on the village as a hub for the arts, entertainment and culture in the revitalization process, the village is looking for its first major streetscape enhancement in about 40 years.
The enhancement would be along the Market Street National Historic Register District, which goes from Depot Street over to the intersection with Maple, Main and Market, and then down Raymond Street.
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Within that district there are 28 buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Hanss previously told the Times.
The funding could go toward replacing the existing sidewalks that are there with one that has a decorative concrete band on it, put in new street trees and “bio-tree planters” which act as stormwater management infrastructure.
There would also be new LED street lighting along Market and Raymond streets to better illuminate the sidewalks and for senior citizens and people with disabilities, groups Hanss said he has heard from.
Potsdam joins Fulton, in the Central Region; Baldwin, in Long Island; Peekskill, in Mid-Hudson; Hornell, in Southern Tier; and Niagara Falls Bridge District, in Western New York.
Yet to be announced are the Capital Region, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and New York City.
Potsdam was joined by Canton, Massena and Ogdensburg, in applying for the grant in St. Lawrence County. Carthage and Lowville, in Lewis County, and Cape Vincent, in Jefferson County, also applied.
This is the fourth consecutive year the village of Potsdam has competed for the funding by submitting a DRI application.
As in the first three rounds of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state’s 10 regional economic development regions is selected as a $10 million winner, marking another overall state goal to target $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family.