FULTON, NY – Roughly 15 people attended the first of two meetings of which the Fulton committee preparing the city’s second Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) application has solicited public input.
Executive Director of the Fulton Community Development Agency, Joe Fiumara recently announced the city’s intent to submit a revised application for the second year of state funding through Governor Cuomo’s DRI in total of $10 million to develop the downtown region for 10 communities throughout the state.
Though Fulton applied for the $10 million prize last year in the first year of DRI funding, the neighboring city of Oswego was chosen to receive the money.
However, Fulton’s application was well received by local and state agencies and served as a good learning tool allowing the city to make revisions in order to submit a stronger application in the second year, Fiumara said.
“This would be a game changer,” Fiumara told Oswego County Today of the potential to receive such a sum of money. “This would be a tenfold type project that ultimately would attract businesses and spur our economy, but would also help with jobs, a better quality of life, recreation, arts and culture – it would really benefit everything.”
Stakeholders in attendance included elected officials, residents, city committee members, and local business owners.
The group was led through the DRI application process by committee members Joe Fiumara, Brittney Jerred, and Dave and Marie Mankiewicz, following a “think positive” theme.
Those in attendance were asked for their input on the city’s current application status through each application attribute, offering suggestions and ideas to add or revise throughout the application.
“We loved all the input we received. I think collectively everyone really got their creative juices flowing,” Fiumara said, adding that input has continually been received after the meeting.
Fiumara found the most discussion took place in the areas of potential investment projects and intended boundaries to identify Fulton’s downtown, even intertwining the two to ensure that potential projects are not missed by the boundaries defined in the application.
Currently, the application identifies the city’s downtown region as running “from West Second Street on the west side of the river, comes across the city line, and comes back down Second Street on the east side of the city,” jotting out to include the former Nestle site, Fiumara said.
Oswego County Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr. suggested honing in the boundaries to focus on a more “condensed” area.
“All I’m suggesting is we bring it in a little bit so that we have something definite that we can say ‘this is what we’re going to do’ not what we would like to do with a fantasy plan,” he said.
In contrast, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. proposed extending the boundaries to include historical buildings in the west side business district along West Broadway.
“If we’re going to apply for a $10 million grant which is a lot of money, it should go where this is a need,” he said, addressing the dilapidation of the buildings in the west side business district due to lack of investment.
“It’s in our boundary now,” he said of the buildings on West Broadway up to West Second Street. “But in my personal opinion I would like to see that Route 3 corridor expanded.”
City Clerk-Chamberlain Dan O’Brien suggested the extension lead through to Lake Neatahwanta.
“What if we made a point we are going to tie our two waters together?” he questioned. “West Broadway would do that by expanding that downtown district from the river to the lake.”
Fiumara noted that the north and south areas included in the boundaries are believed to be the best opportunities for new development as investors have shown interest in these areas.
Potential investment plans for those areas specifically include the development of a hotel/convention center with a possible anchor restaurant in the north portion of the boundaries on the former Sofco site and the ongoing development at the former Nestle site to the south.
“It sounded like the majority of people wanted to see a plan for development of the former Nestles site. I really think once things get moving those lots are going to go quickly, so I think we’d like to see a master plan to ensure we utilize that site in the best, most efficient way possible,” Fiumara said.
Development at both sites will be “core projects” included in the application, he added.
“I was glad to hear the support of a hotel at the former Sofco site, that’s been a goal for many of us for years,” he said.
Other investment plans to be considered in the application included the ongoing development of Fulton Footpaths, renovating the public library, and better utilizing the downtown CNY Arts Center location to bring arts and culture to the area.
New suggestions from the meeting brought the idea to focus on the marina, making the area friendlier for travelers by boat in order to feel more inclined to stop in Fulton as well as reaching out to downtown businesses to gather their personal input and incorporate the vision for their businesses into the plan.
Legislator Castiglia suggested closing off South First Street from Cayuga Street to Broadway to be all walkway and requested elected officials reach out to the state Department of Transportation asking for crosswalks and pedestrian signs to be incorporated on Route 481 to allow more walking ability to the downtown area.
The eight attributes outlined in the application include well-defined boundaries, sufficient catchment areas, past investments and future potential, recent or impending job growth, attractive physical environment, quality of life policies, support for the local vision, and readiness.
Fiumara believes that working off of last year’s application by making necessary revisions and reviewing other 2016 applications including the winning community of Oswego to guide them, the committee has begun developing a well-rounded application.
However, the opportunity to hire a consultant to assist in the application process is being considered.
“We’ve been given approval to use a consultant, our issue has really been finding one,” Fiumara said, noting that the use of a consultant would help to put the final touches on the application and ensure it has properly addressed all necessary criteria, but the majority of the work would be completed by the local committee.
“Personally, I like our chances,” Fiumara said. “Our application is much stronger this year, we’ve learned and we are taking all these ideas to interpret them into our needs and goals. This is the injection we could really use to make our downtown vibrant and lively.”
The final DRI application is due June 14.
Another meeting soliciting public input will take place next Wednesday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in the court room at the Fulton Municipal Building, 141 S. First St.