By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COXSACKIE — The first round of awardees in the NY Forward grant cycle was announced and the village of Coxsackie is one of three big winners.
The village will receive a $4.5 million grant, with the villages of Kinderhook in Columbia County and Cambridge in Washington County each receiving $2.25 million.
Greenville had submitted an application for a NY Forward grant through a volunteer grant committee but was not selected in this round of awards.
The NY Forward grant is new in the state in 2022 and builds on the state’s existing Downtown Revitalization Initiative, or DRI, which is aimed at larger communities. NY Forward is a grant specifically geared to smaller towns.
“New York’s small towns are huge drivers in our state’s economy — that’s why we’re investing in local communities to give residents the jobs, the tools and the infrastructure they need to thrive,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “These investments will help the villages of Coxsackie, Kinderhook and Cambridge re-imagine their downtowns, enhance quality of life for residents and visitors, and create new job and business opportunities across the Capital Region.”
The NY Forward grant was announced by the state July 25 and gave applicants just shy of two months to submit their application. The state is awarding $10 million to each of New York’s 10 regions, with two grants awarded in each region — one for $4.5 million, which was awarded to Coxsackie in this cycle, and two smaller grants of $2.25 million, which went to Kinderhook and Cambridge this go-round.
Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans and members of the Downtown Coxsackie Committee were presented with the $4.5 million check on March 3. The funds will be used for the ongoing restoration, renovation and reinvention of the Reed Street Historic District.
“On behalf of residents of the village of Coxsackie I want to thank Gov. Hochul for this generous grant,” Evans said as he accepted the award. “This grant will allow us to continue the revitalization of our village and continue the vision for our downtown/waterfront area.”
The village’s grant application specified 14 projects totaling over $57 million of investments that could potentially be eligible for the grant’s funding, including establishment of a Capital Region/Hudson River Visitor’s Community Center; redevelopment of the Dolan Block on South River Street; incubating a local food and beverage scene; establishing a scenic gateway to the Hudson River; and development of 70 downtown housing units.
Downtown Coxsackie and the Reed Street Historic District have been undergoing several years’ worth of renovations, including the state’s restoration of Riverside Park, which was completed last year; development of a $15 million hotel and event center by developer Aaron Flach, who is also renovating other sites on South River Street, including Patrick Henry’s Tavern; and storefronts along Reed Street.
The village’s downtown is a “compact and walkable” community that hosts events such as the Coxsackie Farmers Market and music concerts at the park each summer, according to the governor’s office.
“While one of many communities along the Hudson River, Coxsackie has perhaps the most publicly accessible and level acreage with extensive views, a true front-porch feel,” according to a statement from Hochul’s office. “A recent influx of new residents and job growth opportunities are helping to revive the village’s economy, making further investment in arts, housing and entertainment and recreation sectors possible. The village seeks to leverage its best attributes, including the area’s natural beauty and rural small-town feel, to create a community where people want to live, work and play. Coxsackie will realize that vision through public improvement projects, arts and culture enhancements, and improved and expanded housing options to further revitalization.”
Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, said the grant will impact the village as well as the entire region.
“The village of Coxsackie is exceptional with vibrant economic growth and activity,” Tague said. “This investment will not only impact the village of Coxsackie but the entire region. I am honored to represent an area recognized in the NY Forward Program.”
The three grant awardees were selected from applications that came in from around the region. Criteria for selection included compact downtown areas with well-defined boundaries; the ability to capitalize on prior or future private and public investment; job growth to attract workers to the area; an attractive and livable community for diverse populations; a vision for the area that included a community engagement process; transformative projects that would be nearly ready to commence with the infusion of NY Forward funds; and the capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects.
The three villages — Coxsackie, Kinderhook and Cambridge — will next develop Strategic Investment Plans through a Local Planning Committee that will spearhead the project, look at local assets and opportunities, and identify projects that align with the community’s vision.