Do changes in your local surroundings ever catch your eye? Do you ever wonder how these changes come to fruition? The answer to these questions is not a simple one; in fact there are many pieces that come together to create improvements.
Recently, the Village of Watkins Glen submitted an application for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) launched by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This is a $100 million revitalization effort to be distributed amongst one downtown in each of New York’s 10 economic development regions. Finalizing this application in the time allotted required an all-hands-on-deck effort. Many organizations, such as the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED), the newly formed Finger Lakes Gateway Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the Schuyler County Department of Planning, came together with Village officials to ensure a complete and thorough proposal for the $10 million that was on the table for the Southern Tier Region.
Once the Village made the decision to apply, the writing commenced over the Memorial Day weekend. Kristin VanHorn, Director of Planning for Schuyler County, led the effort by creating an outstanding outline with stellar graphics that everyone would write their pieces for, and without that outline, it would have been virtually impossible to produce a competitive, visually appealing proposal.
Following the many hours of researching statistics and trying to put the potential and value of investment our downtown holds into words came editing. Editing and additions occurred through the following days and nights.
As mentioned, all hands were on deck. Some of these hands included friends and family members of officials, co-workers and residents. The collection of different styles, viewpoints, and knowledge of our downtown came together tastefully to emulate what great things we could accomplish with the DRI.
After numerous hours of hard work, the application was submitted prior to the initial deadline. However, this was not the end. We soon learned that the application deadline had been extended by 7 days. We took this as an opportunity to build and strengthen our application and argument. We waited patiently for the results and soon heard that we made it through the first round as a top-three submittal and that in less than a week’s time we would be in Binghamton presenting a seven-minute presentation to the Regional Council.
Once again, a number of individuals and organizations in Watkins Glen came together to help prepare to pitch our potential. The creative juices flowed and it was decided to send postcards to all the voting members of the Regional Council indicating that $10 million would transform the Village of Watkins Glen. The message, created by Ben Stamp, was “34 cents sends a postcard; 10 million dollars transforms a community.”
Integral members of the CDC were tasked with presenting the material along with the County Administrator and a Village Trustee. In some final efforts to smooth the presentation, members of the CDC came over to the Shared Services building and prepared to walk through the presentation. In a rallied effort — as our community is known for — several Village and County personnel in the Shared Services building, and from other places around the Village, came together to listen, support, and offer feedback to the presentation. Once again, different viewpoints and knowledge were coming together to add more depth and variety to the DRI presentation.
After many more hours of dedication, gathering data, writing, editing and rehearsing, a small team, made up of Brittany Gibbs, Kristin VanHorn, Tim O’Hearn and Kevin Thornton, made their way towards Binghamton on June 22 to deliver the presentation. The presentation could be no longer than seven minutes. This was then followed by 10 minutes of questions to the presenters from the Southern Tier Regional Council. Again, local officials came together to answer these questions in an effort to explain why the Village of Watkins Glen should be awarded the DRI funding.
Unfortunately, Watkins Glen did not receive the DRI funding. However, this was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that public and private partners have come together in a collaborative effort to secure funding for areas in our county. Efforts such as this are what bring beautiful and positive change to not only our downtown, but our county as a whole.
Despite not receiving the award, the process of submitting the DRI application had many positive outcomes. Momentum was gained, partnerships were formed and strengthened, and important facts about the Village of Watkins Glen’s potential — including the role of Project Seneca — were acknowledged. Wonderful things are happening in Schuyler County thanks to the efforts of those who wish to move things in a forward direction.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Schuyler County Partnership (SCOPED), please accept the deep appreciation for the contributions of each and every person who participated, contributed and supported this effort.
Judy McKinney Cherry CEcD
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development
To read the proposal submitted, please visit https://flxgateway.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Watkins-Glen-DRI_FinalApplication.pdf
To see videos of developments in Schuyler County be sure to visit the Schuyler County Partnership’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClCms-aVJI12WaE32l_KQ_g and remember, a loss is not always a loss. As the quote goes, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”