Tupper Lake village eyes grants for Junction updates | News, Sports, Jobs – The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

  • September 16, 2022

Sep 16, 2022
The proposed boundary of the target area for the village of Tupper Lake’s application for an NY Forward grant package in the Junction downtown of the village. (Provided photo)
TUPPER LAKE — The village of Tupper Lake is preparing an application for funding from the first round of the state’s new NY Forward grant program in an effort to weave together the state’s Adirondack Rail Trail and the Junction train station into the business district.
“The rail-trail is at the center of our proposal,” said Tupper Lake Community Development Director Melissa McManus, who is assembling the “Junction Downtown Connects” proposal.
The Junction area is the entrance and exit to both the rail line to the south and the trail through the Tri-Lakes, she said, and it’s living up to its name more than ever now. McManus said the goal is to “leverage $44 million in state investment” in the rail and trail projects, which are expected to be completed in the next year or so, into community improvements.
“We’re the lucky ones because we have the train coming in from the south and the trail coming in from our wonderful neighbors,” McManus said.
One of the public projects in the application would see streetscape and trail connection improvements made around the rail-trail junction. The area could use new sidewalks, wayfinding signage, public art and more greenery, McManus said.
Another project would create an Energize Downtown Fund to direct money into redeveloping and restoring storefronts and supporting new and existing businesses in the Junction.
The village sought community input on potential private projects, what part of the village the funds should go to and goals the projects should seek in a survey, which closed last week. A survey on project ideas went up earlier this week and can be found at https://bit.ly/3QMG9BG.

What is NY Forward?

Gov. Kathy Hochul created the NY Forward program as an addition to the Downtown Revitalization Initiative program the state has run for years. Tupper Lake was awarded $10 million in DRI grants last year. The village planning committee has recommended 17 projects to the state to use that money on. The state is in the process of choosing which projects it will fund.
When the DRI was announced, it was an exciting time, but some Tupper Lakers felt something was missing — the Junction.
“People were mad at me because I didn’t put the Junction in the DRI,” village Mayor Paul Maroun said. “But I knew we wouldn’t get the DRI if we made it that big.”
“Tupper Lake’s story is a ‘Tale of Two Downtowns,’” McManus wrote in a press release. Literally, the Junction area used to be the village of Faust before combining with the village of Tupper Lake in the 1940s.
The DRI was focused all on the uptown district. McManus said the NY Forward program seeks to fill those gaps.
“NY Forward awards will be smaller, but more numerous, than the DRI,” McManus wrote. “Rather than one $10 million award per region with the DRI, each Regional Economic Development Council can award up to three awards per region — either two $4.5 million awards, or one $4.5 million award and two $2.25 million awards.”
It’s a “baby DRI,” as Maroun calls it. There is no overlap in the DRI and NY Forward project target areas.
McManus said project applications have been pouring in and the village is still accepting them. To fill out an application for a project, go to tupperlakejunction.com.
McManus said the village will submit its application on Sept. 23. She said the process is very similar to the DRI.
The village is getting assistance from the Franklin County Economic Development Corporation and Northern Forest Center in its application, McManus said.
FCEDC Community Development Director Rachel Child said since the village already has streetscape renderings from previous grants from the state’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, that gives the village a better chance of being chosen for the grant. The state likes to see projects that are ready to go, she said.
“I would never count the village of Tupper Lake out,” FCEDC CEO Jeremy Evans said.

Projects

Currently, the application features proposed expansion projects at Faust Cabins, The Enclave B&B, P2s Pub, Tupper Lake Supply and Fleury’s Automotive; green infrastructure, bicycle parking and electric car charging at Raquette River Brewing; and mixed-use redevelopment of the former Maroun’s Store on Main Street for street-level commercial space and housing above.
Town Councilman John Gillis said the town is also proposing public projects to increase parking near the train depot, where the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society railroad and state rail-trail meet. The town is seeking funding for improvements to the Arron Maddox Hall, too.
Gillis said it needs a lot of work — roofing, insulation, windows and changes to make it more accessible. He said the food pantry in the basement of the call is not handicap accessible right now and the town would need to buy a lift, because a ramp would be too long.
The goals of the grant request include expanding housing opportunities and improving housing quality for a range of incomes, offering more amenities in the Junction, improving existing business exteriors and creating new businesses and improving community gathering spaces.
All these goals are also meant to increase environmental sustainability with green infrastructure, energy efficiency and decarbonization.
The state’s Regional Economic Development Council will review the applications and nominates winners. Then, the Department of State will guide the winners in a strategic planning process with consultants to pick projects.
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