$10 million for Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake village Mayor Paul Maroun helps announce the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant the village was awarded by the state on Friday. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — Tupper Arts was filled with tears and cheers Friday as a packed house of Tupper Lakers learned their village is getting a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant — a sum they hope will transform Tupper Lake forever.

That was the easy part. Now, a committee will be formed to accept project proposals. The window to apply is still open. State consultants will come in, narrow down who will get a piece of the pot, and the final list will be sent to the state for approval. This process will likely take several years.

The money usually starts to be dispersed within two years of the award.

The village began its application process this summer, but Village Mayor Paul Maroun said the idea for it has been in the back of his mind since the state launched the DRI in 2016. Tupper Lake wasn’t ready at the time, but he said the private sector, as well as the village and town boards, put in a lot of work opening businesses, starting organizations, investing in parks and proving to the state that it is ready to take this next step.

Tupper Lake Director of Community Development Melissa McManus said Tupper Lake has never applied for a DRI grant before, and it won it on its first shot. Village Trustee Ron LaScala said the village didn’t want to apply for the grant unless it knew it could be a contender.

McManus said the village was banking on its recent progress on Park Street, the proposed redevelopment of the former Oval Wood Dish Factory and its municipal park to earn the award.

Maroun said many of the village’s proposed projects are “shovel-ready,” a rarity in the DRI contest, which helped the village gain an edge.

McManus said some of the businesses seeking DRI funds are Tupper Arts, the OWD developers, Amado Restaurant and Cafe, and several new proposed hotels.

She also said the village is looking to put some of the money into improving the Demars Boulevard streetscape, keeping the village’s Energize Uptown fund, continue improvements to the municipal park and help new businesses open.

The target area for these funds starts in the Park Street commercial district, runs through the waterfront Municipal Park and ends further down Demars Boulevard where the former Oval Wood Dish factory sits.

The Tupper Lake Business Group’s requests that the town and village invest in recreation trails, including mountain bike, cross country ski and snowmobile trails, are not eligible for these DRI funds, because they are outside of the downtown area.

The village contracted with Elan Planning & Design, an architecture, planning and design firm from Saratoga Springs, to prepare the DRI application.

The state, through its DRI program, awards $10 million in grant funding to different municipalities around the state each year.

The DRI application process is competitive, with many cities, towns and villages applying for a piece of the multi-million dollar pie each year.

This year, the state doubled its funding for the DRI program, so each of the state’s 10 regions has the opportunity to receive up to $20 million, instead of the usual $10 million. Massena was also awarded $10 million through the DRI this week.

There was no 2020 round of the DRI because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The village of Saranac Lake got the DRI award in 2018. The process of putting the money into projects is ongoing. Plattsburgh, Watertown and Potsdam have also won DRI awards. Lake Placid has considered applying in the past.


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