By MIKE LYNCH
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that Saranac Lake was selected as the North Country’s winner of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and will receive a $10 million grant.
Nine other communities in the state will each receive the same amount of money.
Cuomo made the announcement at the Hotel Saranac to a packed house, talking about how his administration has been dedicated to improving the economies of the Adirondacks and North Country and boosting the upstate tourism economy.
The 60-year-old governor described how he used to visit Saranac Lake 40 years ago with his brother, Chris, and he now returns to paddle local waters with his daughters. He talked about how during those past 40 years, there was often a disconnect between Albany and the Adirondacks. He believes that disconnect is now gone.
“The North Country is coming back in a way no one could have imagined,” Cuomo said.
The village is looking to use the $10 million to help fund projects that would improve the downtown area and potentially improve Church Street and Depot Street.
“Ten million dollars frankly will facilitate a lot of big projects,” village Mayor Clyde Rabideau said.
The grant application included numerous priority projects, including moving the Pendragon Theater to Church Street in the former Newman and Homes building. The village is also looking at making improvements to Woodruff Street, connecting Pendragon to Broadway, where several restaurants are located.
Tops Friendly Market, on Church Street, was also a big part of the application.
But Paul Van Cott, village trustee and chairman of nonprofit Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation, said the final decisions on what businesses and projects get money will be made after a public process that will include input from residents and state officials.
This was the village’s second attempt to win the grant. The program is in its third year. Plattsburgh won in 2016 and Watertown won last year.
Van Cott said Saranac Lake has been positioning itself to win this grant for years by engaging in several planning projects.
“(This) really has the potential to be transformative for Saranac Lake,” he said.