By Jill Nagy
Glens Falls planners and city officials have had the job for the last few months of deciding how to spend $10 million. The money comes in the form of a grant from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
They came up with more than a dozen programs and initiatives ranging from a year-round farmers’ market to a “race for space” contest.
Plans were presented to the public at a Feb. 23 meeting. The final wish list will be reviewed by a statewide committee and then passed along to the governor, according to Ed Bartholomew, president of EDC Warren County.
Each proposed project will be reviewed. Bartholomew said the proposals total more than $10 million. If all 14 of them are approved, the city will seek other funding to make up the difference.
A decision is expected from the state in late summer.
Glens Falls beat out other, larger, cities in the Capital Region to get the grant. The selection was announced last August. Plans had to be “game-changing” to win the grand award. Bartholomew said. The infusion of $10 million into a city whose total budget is little more than twice that amount could, by itself, be transformational, he acknowledged.
Several of the proposed projects are food or agriculture related. They include the expansion of Argyle Cheese Farmer to a building on Pruyn’s Island, development of a year-round “Market on South Street” farmers’ market, relocation to Glens Falls of some 80-90 students and several faculty members that comprise the SUNY Adirondack culinary program, a late winter “wax on snow” maple festival, and development of a strategy to attract a supermarket or specialty food stores to downtown Glens Falls.
Argyle Cheese Farmer will move into rented space on Pruyn’s Island with or without the state grant money, according to co-owner Marge Randles, but the grant would allow them to accelerate the process.
Bartholomew said other projects would help upgrade the city’s infrastructure: a stormwater retention project, improved high-speed broadband and upgraded sidewalk, landscaping and street lighting.
On the arts front, there are proposals to assist Adirondack Film Festival venues with technology upgrades, establish a local film commission, assist the Charles R. Wood Theater with capital projects, and assist the Glens Falls Art Trail initiative. To help tie everything together, there is a proposal to develop a downtown branding, marketing and signage strategy.
In addition, up to three niche retailers would receive mentoring and start-up funding as winners of the “race for space.” The goal is to encourage new retail ventures in city-owned buildings renovated as another part of the downtown initiative.