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What’s Next for 3 Villages Awarded $10M in DRI Funding?


After months of planning and hard work, the Villages of Aurora, Cayuga, and Union Springs were announced as the joint winners of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Grant for the Central New York region for their Route 90 Tourism Corridor.

Kari Terwilliger is the Director of the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She explained to Finger Lakes News Radio what steps will need to take place before work can begin on the transformative projects in the three villages along Cayuga Lake’s eastern shore.

Terwilliger said the next major step, which is expected to take 7-10 months, is the process of creating the Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), a detailed look at the villages, their downtowns, and the proposed projects to be ultimately approved by the governor. To achieve this, a Local Planning Committee (LPC) is being put together to work with a consultant team from the New York State Department of State.

Each village’s mayor has recommended members of their communities to the LPC. The Department of State will make the final selections and form the LPC. Terwilliger added that she and other officials plan to meet with the team in April to take them on a tour of each village’s downtown to get them familiar with the localities and the sites of potential projects.

Once the LPC is established, an open call for projects will be put out, something Terwilliger anticipates happening in May. During the call, projects submitted in the original DRI application will be resubmitted along with any new projects residents bring forward.

“Everyone will resubmit their projects,” said Terwilliger. “Anyone who wasn’t in the application but has come up with a great idea or thinks they have something that they want to propose can also submit project ideas to the LPC and our consulting team.”

New for this funding round, Terwilliger said projects in the SIP will have to request a minimum of $75,000; anything smaller would hopefully receive funding through the DRI’s small grants program.

The LPC and consulting team will then create a final slate of projects to be included in the SIP. Sometime between October and December, the SIP will be sent to the Department of State for review to ensure the projects are fundable through the state’s DRI criteria. From there, the document is sent to the governor for final approval.

If everything goes according to schedule, Terwilliger believes the first projects could get underway by the summer of 2025; however, this is dependent on the state’s timetable.

“I’m very hopeful that we have some projects that we’ll be able to get under contract and get underway ideally next summer,” she said. “It really depends on the timeline of the state’s review and the governor’s office making those announcements.”

To help facilitate a smooth SIP process, Terwilliger said her office will help work with the LPC and municipalities to pick projects guaranteed to meet the state’s criteria.

“Our goal is to make sure we’re guiding the LPC along the way and our municipalities to be strategic about the projects that they select to make sure that they meet the state’s criteria, so we’re not in a situation where we’ve done all the work, we’re at the end, and the state says we have to kick this back,” Terwilliger continued.

During this process, the public will be invited to attend a series of public meetings where residents can give feedback on the proposed projects. Terwilliger encourages the public to attend once the meetings are scheduled.

Terwilliger added that there is a misconception going around that she wants to dispel; the $10 million will not be split evenly between the villages.

“The three villages applied together as one joint application, as one vision, one corridor. The money will not be split evenly between the three villages,” she said. “The projects that make that final slate of projects in the SIP are going to be weighed against the whole corridor – what are the best transformational, most catalytic, most needed projects across the corridor?”

Also in February, Governor Hochul announced the Village of Waterloo as the DRI winner for the Finger Lakes region. For DRI purposes, Cayuga County is considered part of the Central New York region along with Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties while Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Orleans, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates Counties make up the Finger Lakes.

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