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March 25, 2024

State of the Village 2024: ACTION!

ECLIPSE ACTION

Perry will be at the center of action next month! We are in the sweet spot within a narrow arc from Dansville to Hamilton, Ontario that will bear witness to a once-in-a-lifetime event - a total solar eclipse. If the skies are clear, please join me on Monday, April 8th at the renovated Village Beach, 42 Walker Road, to celebrate this celestial sight. It begins a smidge past 2pm. “Totality” is at 3:20pm and lasts three incredible minutes.

D.R.I. ACTION

One year ago, NYS selected the scrappy little village of Perry as the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) winner for the Finger Lakes region. A Local Planning Committee worked with consultants and building owners through 2023 to send a “slate” of project proposals to the state totaling over $15 million of funding requests. Stay tuned - Governor Hochul said she’d be in Perry this spring with an announcement of the funded projects. Regardless of which projects move forward, we will see incredible investment over the next 5 years, expansion of our housing (up to 60 new units to be created) and visitor accommodations offerings, renovations of long-vacant properties, and possibly a trail project, community assembly hall, or further streetscape improvements. For those in the DRI boundary with smaller projects, additional applications later this year will open up for facade and renovation projects. 

POTHOLE ACTION

Our DRI win allowed us to crank up our advocacy to NYS to pave Main Street (state-owned route 39), since the governor considers the DRI a priority program. And… after 10 years of being told we were “on the list” to be paved, this time she urged our regional DOT to make this happen. $750,000 has been allocated to get the job done this year!

More “action” is scheduled this year to tackle the next round of neighborhood stormwater drainage improvements. Another $750,000 of funding through another NYS program, plus additional NYS CHIPS money will permit us to fix drainage issues and then repave Watkins, Hawthorne and Benedict Streets, building on last year’s paving of Walnut and Standpipe. 

TAX RATE CUT ACTION

We’ve lowered your village property tax rate 5% over the past 11 years — possible because of these partnerships. The state sees positive results, and that encourages additional outside dollars. Not only can we get more done with less local dollars, but outside investment encourages private investment! New businesses, rehabs, new residential units - all of these broaden our tax base so we can keep the taxes low.

One measure of this turnaround is the total value of village-owned assets - streets, sidewalks, buildings, parks, water, wastewater infrastructure and so on. When I took office in 2013, the accountant’s annual audit valued these assets at a little over $9 million. This had been declining for years - dropping about $500,000 annually just from depreciation. So, it’s a measure of that partnership with state and federal programs that our most recent audit valued our assets at over $18 million - a doubling from 10 years earlier!

SAVINGS ACTION

We are always working to save money and plan ahead. A community solar project is already underway on North Main Street (once complete, residents should be able to sign up for a guaranteed 10% savings on their electric bill) and the Village is exploring a solar array at the wastewater treatment plant that would pay for itself by reducing electric demand for that facility. Meanwhile we are already saving over $30,000/year from transitioning our vehicle fleet to electric or hybrid and converting our street lights to LED the past two years. 


HOUSING ACTION

One unchanged emphasis since I took office in 2013 is the need to “Restore Population.” The premise is simple - not much else mattered if our population continued to decline like it had between 1990-2010 where we lost over 14% of our village population. So, we aimed for a “Hundred New Families Initiative” by 2020 — this meant supporting private and non-profit efforts to create new housing, upper floor apartments, adaptive re-use dwelling unit. Sure enough, as of the 2021 census update, we were one of the few communities in the region to see an increase over the 2010 census numbers. Let’s do that again for 2030!

Another indication of demand is how our house sale prices are faring. With help from Brixwood Realty, I compared trends from the Northeast US and our little village. In Perry however, our average house sale has increased 105%!  That’s a 48% increase over the regional performance. As property values rise, we can continue to lower the tax rate, and those increased values make it easier to justify renovations, home improvements and even perhaps building new homes within the village. I expect all this action, and more, over the next five years. 


INTERACTION

Our citizens, businesses and organizations are doing great things! Last year downtown building owners, Rotary and Perry Main Street Association contributed $50,000 to launch a Street Art Fund, and it’s hard to miss the first new mural at Memorial Park. More appeared up Lake Street in 2023, and additional pieces are planned.

Speaking of Rotary, they are celebrating 100 years including a June 15 Community Picnic, and this celebration includes Rotarians planting and maintaining a new Peace Garden at Memorial Park. Rotary is partnering with Perry Fire Department to launch the Sea Serpent Arts and Craft Show this Columbus Day. That October weekend will cap six months of terrific signature events that include the NYS Puppet Festival and Shake on the Lake, the Silver Lake Experience, Chalk Art Festival, Arts Council gallery openings, softball tournaments, triathlons, a Ring of Fire,  and 16 Saturdays of Perry Farmers’ Market. Plus dozens more live music dates across town. We’re fortunate to have such cultural opportunities here, and grateful to those who make them happen.

There’s so much more to share. Center Street improvements and boardwalks. Regional positioning like Letchworth Gateway Villages, and a County-led Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan underway that includes Perry. We’re swinging for the fences with major updates at our Wastewater Treatment Plant (finishing) and Water Plant (starting). The Planning Board works on future parking needs, and the Tree Board works on our “village arboretum.”  In Perry we play the long game. 

***
And we always have more work to do. To better support our local businesses. To better listen to citizens. To better communicate what we’re up to. If any of this whets your appetite, come talk with your Village Board members! This is my 11th year of doing “Coffee Hour With The Mayor” each Saturday at 11am, currently at Butter Meat Co. Coffee is always on me. Email ahead of time at
rhauser@villageofperry.com to set a time, or try your luck and just drop in. Meanwhile, be well and stay positive.
 



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Masonic Temple in Spring
Perry Public Library, home of the Stowell-Wiles Gallery
His 'N Hers & Jake's Barber Shop on Main Street
Looking South from Burlingham Books, on Main Street
Rachel says Hello! from Olive & Ink, on Main Street
Arts Council for Wyoming County, on Main Street
Artworks by PCS kids on display at the Wyoming County Fair
A sunset over Silver Lake in Winter
Reading at the Bookstore
Read Around Perry (RAP) 5K Medals
Pitching in at the Village Park on Clean Sweep Day
Hold onto your hat...at Last Night Perry!
Hello Honeycombers!
Milk! on Main Street.
Reading with Rotary, oh my!