Lt. gov. bringing DRI news

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul speaks in February 2017 at a “Women in Science” forum at Paul Smith’s College. (Enterprise photo — Kelly Carroll)

SARANAC LAKE — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will come here Thursday morning to make an announcement about the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Village Community Development Director Jamie Konkoski said she expects Hochul will say which projects made the final cut for DRI grants. That news was expected to be released sometime this summer.

The public announcement is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. Thursday in Berkeley Green, the park in the heart of downtown at the corner of Main Street and Broadway. The rain location is the auditorium of the Harrietstown Town Hall at 39 Main St.

Konkoski, the lead organizer behind Saranac Lake’s DRI effort, said she and other village officials have not been notified which projects are in and which are out, and she does not expect they will be told before Hochul makes the announcement.

“This is our notification,” Konkoski said. “It’s show up if you want to know.”

Saranac Lake village board members and Gov. Andrew Cuomo pose with an oversized check for $10 million in August 2018 at the Hotel Saranac, at an event to announce the village won the grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. From left are village Trustee Paul Van Cott, Trustee Melinda Little, Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Cuomo, Trustee Patrick Murphy and Howard Zemsky, head of New York's Empire State Development. (Enterprise photo — Jacob Linton)

It was last August that Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Saranac Lake to announce that Empire State Development had chosen the village as the North Country region’s DRI winner for 2018, which meant the state would give the village $10 million for public and private projects intended to improve its downtown.

Each year since 2016, the state has picked one community in each of its 10 economic development regions for a DRI award. Plattsburgh won it in 2016 and Watertown in 2017.

Since last August, a Local Planning Committee of Saranac Lake government officials and private citizens, chaired by Mayor Clyde Rabideau, has worked hard to solicit DRI project ideas, scrutinize those applications and winnow down the list. The state recommends that each DRI-awarded community submit $15 million worth of requests for funding, of which $9.7 million will be awarded. The rest of the $10 million goes to administrative costs, such as a state-hired engineering firm that guided the village through the process.

Konkoski said Saranac Lake got its list down to around $14.5 million by the time it submitted it to the state.

The village government itself proposed some of the projects, such as Woodruff Street improvements, extending Depot Street to Cedar Street, completing the River Walk, putting a whitewater park in the Saranac River, downtown art installations and park upgrades, including public restrooms beside Berkeley Green. The DRI would pay for public-sector projects in their entirety.

From left, music store owner Mark Coleman asks Saranac Lake Local Planning Committee members Tim Fortune and Jamie Konkoski and Steve Hunt of Empire State Development questions about the preliminary project list at the Downtown Revitalization Initiative open house in January. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Private projects, however, would only be partly funded. One of the biggest requests came from Pendragon Theatre, asking the state to cover more than a third of its $6.5 million plan to build a new venue downtown. No other private applicant sought a seven-figure sum, but the Play ADK children’s museum project and an apartment building project at 133 Broadway each asked for amounts in the high six figures toward their roughly $2 million goals.

Other private proposals included Bitters & Bones adding a brewery and beer garden, BluSeed Studios adding an elevator to become handicap accessible, expansion of Black Mountain Architecture and renovations at Tops Market, the Coulter Block, the T.F. Finnigan building and Historic Saranac Lake’s Trudeau Building.

The “opportunities” board at a Downtown Revitalization Initiative open house in Novenber 2018 invited public comment on opportunities the village downtown could capitalize on. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

This sketch shows how string lights might adorn Woodruff Street, Saranac Lake, if a village-sponsored Downtown Revitalization Initiative project for streetscape upgrades is funded. (Provided image — Village of Saranac Lake)

The site of a proposed whitewater park on the Saranac River in downtown Saranac Lake, beneath the Mayor Frank Ratigan Memorial Bridge, is seen via drone footage. (Provided photo — Saranac Lake Whitewater Project)

An artist’s rendering shows what the new Pendragon Theater at 56 Woodruff St., Saranac Lake, could look like. (Image provided)

Play ADK Executive Director Rob Carr stands in January beside the potential home for the children’s museum, the former Branch and Callanan warehouse on Depot Street, Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

A rendering shows an 11-unit apartment and commercial building at 133 Broadway, developed by 135 Broadway Apartments. (Provided photo — Steven Sidrane)

This sketch shows what the Bitters & Bones bar at 65 Broadway, Saranac Lake, might look like in three years if selected for state funding through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. (Provided image — Jess McCloskey Drafting & Design Services)