CLINTON — Four years ago New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo developed the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a grant of $10 million to fix up and develop New York State downtown neighborhoods into more dynamic and vibrant communities.
Since 2016 winners in the Mohawk Valley have been Rome, Amsterdam and Oneonta. Residents of Kirkland and Clinton hope the village and town will be next winner.
Patty Louise, of Waterville, who was an instrumental part of Clinton being named the 2018 Kraft Hockeyville community, is also working toward revitalizing the Clinton Arena, and now, the Village of Clinton and the Town of Kirkland with this DRI program.
Louise said she and several others in researching ways to fund the $4 million price tag for remodeling of the Clinton Arena, met former Clinton resident Jennifer Waters, Mohawk Valley Edge vice president of business development and communications. It was Waters who knew about the DRI program and she explained it to Louise and other members of the Clinton Hockeyville committee.
“She was a good advisor for us in how to do funding,” Louise said. “None of us really have that background in big time funding. But when we took a look at the application criteria we realized Clinton really could qualify. I mean, not just the arena, but the entire zone of the village and town.”
Louise said the program is for communities that have shown revitalization potential. It’s not for communities who are struggling where all the stores have closed down and there is not much left to build on. The governor wants communities who’ve shown a willingness to grow, attract outside business and income. For small communities who have built themselves up on their own and just need a little more help.
Businesses like Hale Transportation.
“ Absolutely, Steve’s commitment to his business is exactly the kind of thing the state wants to see,” Louise said.
Clinton has a walkable downtown, Louise explained. You can go from the arena to the library in about 12 minutes. In order to qualify, you need a zone that has a mix of stuff, businesses, residents, things that bring people into your town, things that keep people in your town. Clinton hits the hallmarks she said, the Kirkland Art Center, The Kirkland Library and the Clinton Historical Society, the pool, the school and the Clinton Arena.
Also, one of the requirements to construct a more favorable application is a plan for what your community would do with the grant if it were awarded to them. On April 8 a special town meeting was held and citizens were asked for ideas on how to improve the town.
• Jim Bramley of Kirkland NY Trails suggested developing a network of connected multi-use trails, bike lanes and safe walking paths for security, recreation and area education. George Joseph, owner of North Star Orchard said he would be willing to donate property near Oriskany Creek to help with the construction of those trails.
• Damhnait McHugh of the Kirkland Art Center suggested funds for an “artist in residence” program.
• Fire Chief Jim Scoones would like to build a new fire house.
• Jennifer Giannone would like to see improvements made to the 62-year-old Jack Boynton Community Pool on Norton Ave. The pool could use some patches and resurfacing along with an ADA pool house for physically disabled swimmers.
• Jim O’Brein likes the idea of a trolly in town to ferry around residents and visitors, and a bike share is another thought.
• Oneida County Legislator Chad Davis (D-14) said a new roof on the VFW would be a worthy venture and also supported Chief Scoones on his suggestion for a new fire house.
Former Clintonian Andy Burns was not in attendance, but sent some ideas to Louise which she read aloud.
• New Village Offices moved to the same building as the town offices.
• Also, a tribute to the famous Ginkgo tree that stood in the former Great American Supermarket parking lot could be erected, calling it the Ginkgo Tower.
•Kirkland resident, Sandy Scofield said public bathrooms and electric car charging stations could benefit the community.
•The Kiwanis Club of Clinton Inc. President Karen A. Ostinett would like to use some of the DRI money to remodel the Paul J. Weimer/Kiwanis soccer/baseball Field on Beatty Avenue.
“It’s nice to have a whole community get together like that and make suggestions,” said Jackie Walters, executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce. “Like Jenn at the pool who had such great ideas that frankly, we wouldn’t have thought about.”
The DRI application and its deadline for submission is still unclear admits Louise. The state has yet to announce when it will be made available and when it will be due. Which is why Louise said she and others who were involved in the Hockeyville project have been using last year’s application to get familiar with what a favorable application entails.
Louise said once they know the application deadline they’ll be able to go before the town board and ask them to pass a resolution to form a joint committee between village and town representatives.
A joint meeting has been discussed for sometime in May between the town and the village boards.
While the project is still in its infancy the support it’s getting is strong among the civically engaged in the Town of Kirkland and Village of Clinton.
And Louise is as committed as can possibly be.
“We want this grant, we do, but If we don’t get the award this year, we’ll try again next year,” Louise said. “If we don’t get the award next year, we’ll try again the year after that.”