New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today 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 9 projects ranging from helping grow the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne to designing a comprehensive 21st century Adirondack Park Economic Development Strategy. DEC received approximately $1.4 million worth of proposals from around the Park. The grants are comprised of local, regional and park-wide projects.
"Providing communities with financial assistance to promote sound economic development while protecting the state's valuable natural resources will help foster a good quality of life for the Park residents," said Commissioner Martens. "The Adirondack Park is the largest protected area in the country and serves as home to more than 130,000 full-time residents, hundreds of businesses and communities that depend upon the continued protection of its natural resources and the expansion of sustainable economic-development opportunities. These goals serve everyone's interest."
"The Department of State recognizes the importance of advancing Smart Growth in the Adirondacks," said Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "The grants announced today complement the community-based plans and projects sponsored by the Department of State in more than 60 Adirondack communities. These efforts help revitalize hamlets, promote economic development, protect and improve water quality, develop new parks and trails, and support tourism development. The Department of State is proud of its role in advancing revitalization efforts throughout the Adirondack communities and we look forward to continuing our partnership in this region to help promote sustainable development."
"I am very pleased that DEC recognizes the value of these Adirondack projects," said Senator Betty Little. "These are ideas and plans that come from local stake holders who have a vision for their community but need some financial assistance to bring it to fruition. This is an effective state and local government partnership to meet important quality of life needs, including promoting economic growth.
"The Smart Growth Grants will allow our Adirondack communities to plan for their future economic viability," said Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. "Good, sound planning brings both tourists and businesses to our area. I am pleased that funding will be available for this important use."
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 park-wide in impact.
The grants include:
$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 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.
"The Adirondack Park Agency fully supports local and regional efforts to build sustainable communities throughout the Park," said Adirondack Park Agency Executive Director Terry Martino. "The Smart Growth Grant program provides a critical funding source to help empower communities to meet the unique challenges facing rural areas. We look forward to working with Park stakeholders to ensure the realization of their project goals."
"The AATV is pleased that Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens recognize the importance of providing EPF funds to build economically viable communities in the park," said President of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Brian Towers.