New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens Aug. 10 announced awards for “smart growth grants” for Adirondack communities.
The grants are designed to assist counties, towns, villages and their partner organizations in developing community based plans that link sustainable economic development, environmental protection and community livability.
A total of $500,000 will be awarded to nine projects. DEC received approximately $1.4 million worth of proposals from around the Park. The grants are comprised of local, regional and parkwide projects.
Smart growth is sensible, planned growth that balances the need for economic development with concerns about quality-of-life, such as preserving the natural and built environment. Smart growth is also becoming a useful tool to attract businesses that value community quality-of-life.
Since 2007, the Environmental Protection Fund has included a total of $4.1 million in grants to promote smart growth initiatives; $2 million has been earmarked for the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Smart growth can be useful in addressing land-use issues facing rural communities – workforce housing, aging infrastructure, water quality, economic development, open space protection and village/hamlet revitalization.
The grant winners include five projects that address local issues, two that are regional in nature and two that are parkwide in impact. The grants include:
- $69,000 to the Town of Bolton for a detailed master plan of hiking, biking and snowmobiling opportunities on the west side of Lake George. The project will identify opportunities for linking existing trail systems, community centers and municipal transportation and will promote new tourism opportunities.
- $37,000 to the Town of Elizabethtown for a smart growth oriented comprehensive plan. Part of the comprehensive plan will anticipate development of pedestrian linkages and public sewer and will prioritize projects to carefully develop the hamlet.
- $123,000 to Hamilton County for the "Adirondack Park Economic Development Strategy," utilizing smart growth principles in a parkwide action plan to improve economic conditions. Partners in the project will include: Adirondack Community Housing Trust, Adirondack Landowners Association, North Country Chamber of Commerce, Paul Smith's College, The Center for Economic Growth, Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Commission and The Adirondack Council.
- $88,000 to Essex County for technical assistance to communities in the use of the "Hamlets 3" guidebook for hamlet expansion. The project team will engage planning board members and town leaders in training workshops throughout the Adirondack Park to learn about the principles of Smart Growth and use the Hamlets 3 model to identify site-specific projects for their community.
- $40,000 to the Town of Lake Luzerne to support growth of the non-profit Adirondack Folk School, located in a formerly vacant building on the Hudson River in downtown Lake Luzerne. This regionally competitive school of traditional Adirondack arts, crafts and culture will develop a comprehensive outreach program to draw instructors and students into the community.
- $40,000 to the Town of Newcomb for plans to develop a main street on NYS Route 28 that can improve quality of life and accommodate eco-tourism. The plans will include site-specific land use recommendations, a pedestrian-oriented, multimodal complete street plan and a marketing strategy to capitalize on the town’s vast natural and cultural resources.