"Smart Growth" planning funds available to Rte. 28 communities

By Brian Sweeney
Six communities along Route 28 will soon have $500,000 in “smart growth” funds available to be used toward capital projects.
The funding was included as part of the recently adopted New York State budget. Communities that have committed to participate in this Catskill corridor initiative include the townships of Andes, Middletown, Shandaken and Olive, plus the villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville.
Two workshops to review funding this program are planned for Wednesday, April 23, hosted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The first meeting is set from 2-3:30 p.m. at that Catskill Watershed Corporation office on Main Street, Margaretville. The second meeting will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. at The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development on Route 28, Arkville.
Peter Manning, regional planner at The Catskill Center, hailed the funding announcement as very important for the region.
“This is great news for these Catskill communities,” stated Mr. Manning. “The individual and collective development choices along the corridor are directly linked to our economic and environmental well-being. With this program, communities can take an even greater role in enhancing the range of opportunities the Catskills offer.”
Projects commonly awarded grants in this type of process include: Main Street improvements like pocket parks, sidewalks, benches, façade improvements, retrofitting of existing buildings in hamlets, aesthetic signage, landscaping, tree planting and interpretive kiosks.
The minimum grant award available under this program is $40,000 and the maximum is $83,333. The minimum amount is intended to encourage each municipality to submit applications for projects that will have a significant scope and impact. Partial grants are also a possibility, according to the DEC.
State Senator John Bonacic was a key supporter of the Smart Growth initiative and he also lauded the funding approval.
The senator said that these funds “ensure that localities can accommodate sensible economic growth. The natural resources and cultural heritage in our region are primary components that sustain and grow the tourism economy.”
Smart Growth funding can be applied for by localities and not-for-profit organizations through the DEC, for projects located wholly within the program area. Applications for funding must be postmarked no later than June 20. Application forms and additional information is available at: www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/37874.html.