$2.25M NY Forward grant application

Dear Residents,

Thank you to all who contributed to the village’s $2.25M NY Forward grant application, especially our Economic Development Director Renee Shur for putting it all together!

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What is the NY Forward Program? The NY Forward program is intended to, “invigorate and enliven downtowns in New York’s smaller and rural communities—the type of downtowns found in villages, hamlets and other small, neighborhood-scale municipal centers. NY Forward builds on the success of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) by adopting the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the DRI. The State has allocated $100 million for the first round of NY Forward. Each of the State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) will have the option of recommending two communities for $4.5 million NY Forward awards or three communities one of which will receive $4.5 million and two will be awarded $2.25 million.” You can find out more information about NY Forward here: https://www.ny.gov/programs/ny-forward

How did the village decide on what projects were included?  Public engagement kicked off with an informational presentation by the village’s economic development director on July 13, 2022, at a monthly Village Board meeting at which the NY Forward program and the application process were summarized. Members of the public were present. Following the Village Board’s commitment to proceed, the Letter of Intent was submitted on August 10, 2022.

A review of the Village of Kinderhook Comprehensive Plan Update (December 2016), which represents the most comprehensive summary of the community’s priorities to date, was then undertaken to assess community consensus on desired improvements and directions for the village’s future. The Comprehensive Plan identified opportunities for improvement that are consistent with the NY Forward project selection. These include improving handicap accessibility; preservation of the historic past while looking forward; repairing Albany Avenue; improving safety for bicycling and walking as well as on roads, sidewalks, and at pedestrian crossings; re-energizing vacant storefronts; increasing business activity; façade improvements; building on heritage tourism and creating opportunities for increased tourism; historic-style lighting; improving facilities in Van Buren Hall; and expanding recreational amenities.

The village’s economic development director and I then undertook a dialogue with owners of either vacant or under-utilized properties and properties with housing opportunities plus non-profit organizations located in the B-1 Business District. The non-profit organizations included Columbia County Historical Society and the Kinderhook Memorial Library. The nonprofit organizations and private property owners were asked to submit suggestions for projects. Those conversations were the genesis of identifying appropriate projects.

On August 24, 2022, the economic-development director, the director and financial officer of the Columbia County Historical Society, and I held a technical consultation with New York State on project selection.

August 31, 2022, the Village held a Public Engagement Workshop in Van Buren Hall at 6 Chatham Street before a special Village Board meeting. The workshop was advertised via village email blasts, social media, and posters displayed at locations around the village. The twenty-five attendees included a cross-section of the village’s population – new and long-time residents; young transplants; parents; senior citizens; retirees; board of trustee members; and business owners. The workshop included a summary of potential projects that had been identified to date. Audience members were invited to share feedback on project selection and project prioritization.

On September 3, 3022, a NY Forward informational packet was made available to the public at the Kinderhook Farmers’ Market. During the month of September, the economic development director and I continued to work with business and property owners and non-profit organizations to refine their project proposals. I personally reached out to several property and business owners in the village to encourage them to propose projects.

Community engagement and discussions about many of the selected projects have taken place over time in multiple forums. For example, general discussions about village business development take place monthly during Kinderhook Business and Professional Association meetings. From 2018 to 2020, a special committee met monthly to discuss and plan for the renovation of Van Buren Hall. A public-feedback survey for users of Van Buren Hall was completed prior to the generation of an architectural plan. In 2021, the Kinderhook Recreation Commission completed research and discussions on playground-equipment selection and pricing in preparation for submitting a grant application to the NYS Office of Parks and Recreation, Historic Preservation for upgrades to Rothermel Park Playground.

Our application was submitted on September 23, 2022.

On October 13, 2022, two members of the Regional Economic Development Council visited the village to see and discuss our projects. The council members provided meaningful feedback about how we can make our proposals more competitive. Several of the property owners were present to meet the council members and answer any questions that they may have. Thank you to Jake Samascott for providing a tractor ride and some fresh fruit to Rothermel Park and back.

On October 19, 2022, I provided the Regional Economic Development Council our presentation and discussed each project in detail answering any specific questions that the council may have. Thank you to Renee and Liz Cottingham for helping with designing our presentation.

Thank you! This is a highly competitive grant with 19 other municipalities in our region applying for the funding and only two or three will be awarded. Please say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.