AMSTERDAM — The steering committee tasked with proposing ways to spend the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative state grant voted on Wednesday to finalize a list of 20 projects that will be submitted to state officials on March 31.
Amsterdam’s Local Planning Committee [LPC] for the grant has met six times since the state announced the DRI award in October.
On Wednesday the LPC narrowed the final list of projects from a total of 34 that had been proposed for the funding.
Among the projects selected was a $5.3 million pedestrian walkway connector from the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook bridge to Main Street. That project is seeking $3.3 million in DRI funding, with the rest to be paid for with other grant funding.
Renderings for the connector, which would provide pedestrian access from Veteran’s Park downtown to the bridge, were released Wednesday as part of the final list of projects.
The bridge connector was a late addition to the DRI process, having originally been a component of a much larger $29 million Multimodal Station proposal to relocate Amsterdam’s west end Amtrak station to downtown. The Multimodal project was one of six the city’s Local Planning Committee has recommended for other forms of funding, excluding them from the DRI.
Mayor Michael Villa said there is about $9.7 million left in the grant; a portion was used to pay for the state-mandated consultants Amsterdam officials have worked with in preparing the final DRI plan to be submitted for state approval.
“The state requested we submit about $15 million worth of projects, which is what we did. Obviously, some of the things are going to get cut, that’s just reality, but this presents the opportunity for other funding to be applied for. I think we came up with a quality list. There are some game changers on there,” he said.
Some of the other big ticket projects included on the list were: a $6 million community recreation center, seeking $2.5 million in DRI funding, and a $4.3 million business incubator and STEM education center for the Amsterdam Free Library, seeking $1.8 million in DRI funding.
“I think the recreation center is a critical component to redeveloping that corridor,” Villa said.
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Amanda Bearcroft, Amsterdam’s director of community and economic development, will pick from among the submitted projects, with the goal of choosing the ones likely to have the greatest economic impact. She said the state anticipates that the private sector and other public sector grant funding will be added to the DRI grant, ultimately resulting in an investment of approximately $30 million into Amsterdam’s downtown over the next five years.
Bearcroft said even the projects that are not selected by the state will benefit from the preparation put into them through the DRI process, because they are now ready to be submitted for other grants.
“Even projects that have not been identified at this time, if it’s a project within the DRI boundary, it will be looked upon more favorably by the state and funding agencies to create that kind of catalyst that we want to see in the downtown. We don’t expect all of these projects to move the downtown in a massive direction forward, but it’s great first step, and we’re anticipating over the next five years we’re going to double or triple our investment,” she said.
The city will host a public presentation of the DRI plan on March 20 at 6 p.m.