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Massena downtown properties qualify for grant awards

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MASSENA - A total of 14 downtown Massena properties have qualified for preliminary awards in the “Anchors and Gateways” NY Main Street Grant initiative of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena (BDC).

A total of 21 applications in all were received, with 19 going on to the review and scoring stage, according to BDC Vice President Larry Ralston, who chairs the Local Program Administration Coordinating Committee overseeing the distribution of grant funds.

“We were very pleased by such a high level of interest in the program,” said Ralston. “A total of $1.9 M in construction projects was proposed, for which property owners were seeking $550,000 in grant funding.”

With only $228,500 in funds to award, the application process was highly competitive, Ralston stated. “We had very specific goals and targets to meet based on the funding awarded to Massena by New York State.The projects recommended for funding were those that most strongly met those goals and targets.”

The BDC established a scoring process, based on a point system, to provide a fair and objective way to rate each application against the grant criteria, stated Nicole Martin of In. Site Architecture, who authored the grant as part of her company’s services to the BDC in support of Massena’s downtown revitalization.

“A Grant Review and Scoring Team (GDRT), which included three community members, one BDC representative, and our consulting architect, scored each project.The GDRT then made funding recommendations to those projects which scored the highest, based on the number of goals and targets they met,” Martin said.“The GDRT’s recommendations were approved by the BDC on June 6, with preliminary award letters issued on June 7.”

The selected projects are now entering into the Scope of Work phase, and those which continue on to the contract stage will be announced as they are finalized.

“Based on the quality of the applications, the BDC fully expects all projects to proceed,” said Martin. “The end result will be quite amazing. In two years, downtown Massena will be visibly transformed in a significant way because of the determination of downtown property owners, support from NYS, and grassroots leadership.”

The NYMS grant is one of several initiatives that are beginning to be rolled out by the Massena Downtown Coalition (MDC), an all-volunteer effort initiated by the BDC and guided by In. Site Architecture, a firm that specializes in downtown revitalization projects.

“The MDC is made up of downtown property owners, elected officials, community leaders, and average citizens who are all working together to ‘take back our downtown’,” said Paul Rufa, a BDC Board Member active on the MDC.

“There are several committees hard at work pursuing everything from historic preservation designations to bringing back the downtown theater,” Rufa stated.

The MDC presented a one year progress report to the community on June 12, outlining the advancements made by eight project committees.

“All of the current MDC committees were formed by community-minded individuals who are committing themselves to finding a way to tackle one downtown problem or opportunity,” Rufa said.

Ralston encouraged all property owners who submitted applications, whether they were funded or not, to get involved in the MDC.The MDC is also open to all downtown property owners and any community members interested in improving downtown Massena.

“We could not fund all of the applications submitted, and the target area for the grant focused only a small part of downtown,” Ralston said.He added that the BDC would be very supportive of efforts by groups of property owners to improve the riverfront, targeted blocks of downtown, key properties or other projects.

“The MDC was formed by the BDC to provide a way for people to work together on the downtown development projects that matter most to them,” Ralston stated.“We’re excited about the projects that have proceeded to the next stage of the NY Main Street grant, and are confident that this is just the beginning of the rediscovery of downtown Massena.”

To learn more, visit the MDC’s page on Facebook or call the BDC office at 705-0009.

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