Downtown Revitalization Initiative Funding Supports Private Dollar Investments

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
The city of Fulton received some fantastic news this month when it was named the regional winner of this year’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative state grant.

This is the second time a community in Oswego County has been awarded the DRI in three years.

In 2016, the city of Oswego was among the first cities in the state to secure the award.

The combined $20 million for these two cities is good news for our whole area and a catalyst for more positive changes on the horizon.

To put the accomplishment into perspective, the DRI is highly competitive.

This year 100 communities applied for the DRI in the state and only 10 will be awarded.

In 2016, the odds were similar for Oswego.

In securing the DRI, both localities have already proven with their applications that they have what it takes to put forth a vision and plan for an improved future which is not easy.

There are several elements to the application including incorporating public input, showing how public grant dollars can be leveraged with private dollar investment, creating a boundary for the investment dollars, and proposing projects that will create jobs and spur additional investments.

Each should be applauded for setting forth convincing and winning applications for their respective cities.

Oswego, having received it first, is already through its requisite planning process and has begun building new projects, nearly completed the rehabilitation of historic sites, and has invested in its public spaces within the boundary.

The public space renovations include the construction of its downtown streetscape on West Bridge Street and the creation of a new park next to the river on Water Street, both of which lead to other city parks and complement the ongoing improvements at the Marina and at Brietbeck Park.

Other DRI projects include the newly-renovated children’s museum, demolition and redevelopment of the Midtown Plaza to create new apartments, and an indoor water park on the east side that is expected to open in December 2020.

It is estimated the private project investors will infuse $60 million into the city.

It has been exciting to see the improvements be unveiled by Mayor Billy Barlow and local developers.

As part of its DRI initiative, Fulton plans to update its canal marina, invest in trails along the Oswego River, welcome an assisted living facility where Michaud used to be on South Fourth Street, support Huhtamaki in its goal of investing in new equipment to maintain and create jobs, and support manufacturing and continued redevelopment at the former Nestle site.

Several small businesses including a drone business, a new café, an indoor sports center, a micro-brewery, and health services are also part of the proposal.

Fulton still has to go through a state planning process as part of the DRI, which could alter the proposed projects some but in total, the plan proposes $75 million worth of total-dollar investment in the city.

This kind of investment and economic activity has the potential to revitalize the whole city.

Having the two communities so close to each other receive this award will have a synergistic effect which has the potential to help our county and region.

Revitalization efforts are ongoing and take long-term commitment from everyone, families, homeowners, schools, non-profits, local business, and local leaders.

But our region has so much and there is no reason why we can’t be more, one that provides more services to people, provides more of a place that people want to live and work, and allows us to become more of an attraction for tourists.

I am proud to live where people have proven they are ready to invest in and revitalize our communities.

I thank all involved in the DRI application project and congratulate those teams on the successful outcome.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Will Barclay, on Facebook.