February 21, 2023
THINK BIG: The 2023 State of the Village
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Theme for the 2023 Perry Chalk Art Festival is “Think BIG”! For the scrappy little village of Perry, 2023 is shaping up to be quite a year, and thinking big will be an asset. Last Monday, Governor Hochul announced that Perry had been awarded $10 million through Round 6 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).
Each year, through a competitive application and interviews, one community in our nine-county region receives this prize. We join previous recipients Geneva, Batavia, Penn Yan, Seneca Falls and Newark - good company.
If you’ve been paying attention the past 10+ years, you’ll know we’re well along on our revitalization journey. We have never lacked for smart, savvy people, vision, determination or action. In Perry, we thought we already had the intensity knob turned up all the way.
But this award cranks it up to 11. The mix of private and public projects to be funded will carry us through to 2030. This one grant - which is ultimately to be allocated to many project-specific awards adding up to $10 million - is roughly double the grant funding we’ve received in the past ten years (excluding water/sewer funding) in our aggressive campaign to invest in public and private sector improvements!
And we can’t wait. In areas such as housing, dining, outdoor recreation, the arts and accommodations, an opportunity like this will have an enormous impact. It will spur just the kind of targeted improvements envisioned in our 2015 Comprehensive Plan and extended in our 2022 Resiliency Plan. Through this infusion of capital, we will add residents, broaden and grow our tax base (allowing us to continue lowering the village tax rate) and support small business, our school district, area employers, and our volunteer organizations.
At the announcement event in Rochester, I thanked Governor Hochul, Empire State Development, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and New York State for believing in the Perry Project. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the Perry Main Street Association who built the scaffolding on which which so much of the revitalization work to date rests, established the core vision, and in 2022 essentially rewrote our DRI application from the ground up, telling our story with passion and focus. Your Village Board has pursued this vision and now, with the support of our Town and our County, we have the right partnership in place.
We all have many questions about process, but other than a giant foam core check for $10 million signed by Kathy Hochul on display at Village Hall, we have few details about next steps and exact timing. Answers will come soon.
Meanwhile, here’s what I understand about what happens now. Starting in a few weeks, the state will help launch a robust local planning and project-selection process.
They will appoint a local planning committee (LPC) made up of community representatives, and they will assign us a team of planners, architects and landscape architects, paid for by the program, to facilitate. They will help us glean community priorities and your ideas for transformative projects. Those consultants will be here to help hone that vision, working with owners to flesh out project ideas with graphics, budgets and pro formas.
That might take us into summer. The LPC will help prioritize the applications and send the project profiles to Albany. The state will make final selections of the projects to receive funding, with an announcement likely next winter. Funded projects will then enter into contracts with the state agencies overseeing them, and detailed design and construction can begin.
All told, $10 million of grant funding could leverage $15-$20 million worth of work that will come to fruition over the next 5 years. That’s an enormous injection of capital. A true tipping point.
While this DRI funding - as its name would suggest - is geared towards downtown and a stretch of the village along the Silver Lake Outlet, we continue to seek funding and play catch-up on roads, sidewalks and drainage with more projects planned for this year. In addition, we’re working on a number of other big things.
In 2023 we’ll be concluding a decade-long, $12 million overhaul of our wastewater treatment plant. And we’ll be starting a $7 million upgrade ($5 million covered by grant funding) of our water treatment plant. The importance of modernizing these dated systems cannot be overstated. Safe drinking water reliably delivered - and your sewage reliably processed - is a bedrock promise and one of the core benefits of village living. These investments place Perry on a solid footing for the next generation. And the increased capacity and reliability supports the growth promised by investments such as the DRI.
One more big thing you’ll hear more about: Wyoming County has secured $150,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund to assist the Towns of Castile and Perry and the Village of Perry to develop Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs (LWRP’s) for our Silver Lake/Silver Creek waterfronts.
The LWRPs will identify opportunities to enhance natural and cultural resources, promote tourism in the region, further infrastructure improvements, enhance public access to outdoor recreation activities, protect the Silver Lake Outlet Wildlife Management Area, and advance significant economic development projects. This also positions the County to secure needed funds to dredge the Silver Lake Outlet and north end of Silver Lake. Stay tuned for more about how to get involved in that process. I’m waiting too.
Really so much of this is about making generational investments, being pro-active rather than re-active, and acknowledging that we can do more than one thing at a time. I call our Village staff our Dream Team for a good reason.
We have a dedicated Village Administrator, department heads who understand about establishing and maintaining ever higher standards, and village employees who have embraced the extra effort and culture of excellence that an ambitious agenda requires.
These are local leaders I’m really proud to stand alongside. Like the projects we plan, these are the folks who will endure after my public service ends. Perry could not be in better hands.
There’s a lot to talk about. And you have concerns and questions. That’s all good. As always your village board would like to hear from you. Email me, or come find me at Coffee Hour With The Mayor Saturdays at 11am, now at Butter Meat Co. Coffee is on me. Meanwhile, stay warm, and stay positive.
« Mayor's Messages