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The Times
  • Watertfront connections project discussed at forum in Little Falls

  • Future plans for the Little Falls canalway were discussed at Tuesday night’s waterfront connections forum.



    The educational forum was a collaboration between the city of Little Falls, the New York State Department of State, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Little Falls Harbor Commission and several community groups.

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  • Future plans for the Little Falls canalway were discussed at Tuesday night’s waterfront connections forum.
    The educational forum was a collaboration between the city of Little Falls, the New York State Department of State, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Little Falls Harbor Commission and several community groups.
    Little Falls resident and forum host, Dave Van Meter asked the public, “Why should we care about marinas? Because marinas bring people together.”
    Guest speaker Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor Director of Development Hannah Blake went on to explain Van Meter’s point.
    “The canal spans over 233 communities and the Little Falls canalway is a critical link in the Erie Canalway because it intrigues those who travel along the canal as to what other great canal ports lie ahead and Little Falls is already ahead of the game,” said Blake. “Canal Place is a great tourist attraction with local businesses, shops, restaurants, and downtown all in walking distance of the canal.”
    In 2008, Canal Place was recognized by Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor for it’s outstanding example of a driven economy and community revitalization.
    “By adding a marina that can accommodate all different types of boats, the Little Falls canalway tourism, economy and revitalization of the city will continue to grow,” Blake said.
    Blake added through festivals and other marina related events $209 million was generated in direct sales through the entire Erie Canalway within a year’s time.
    In 2009, the city’s waterfront connection project was awarded $324,275 in grant funding from the New York State Department of State through the Local Waterfront Revitalization program. New York State Department of State, Division of Coastal Resources Coastal Resource Specialist, John Wimbush explained to community groups and residents the grant money can be used to make any needed waterfront improvements. He said, The city does not have to use the entire grant but, if more money was needed at a later time it could be tricky to receive it again, because of this, Wimbush encouraged the city to use most of the grant money to complete the waterfront connection project. The grant is a 50/50 match meaning, the New York State Department of State grant for $324,275 must be matched by the City of Little Falls in order for the city to receive the grant.
    Wimbush said another way to match the grant is through a kind match.
    “A kind match is a write off of donated services or materials used to complete the project,” he added.
    The Little Falls waterfront connections project must be completed by December 14, 2013.
     “If a municipality does not complete the project established by the grant completion date, an extension can be obtained through the New York State Department of State if the municipality is working hard to finish the project,” stated Wimbush.
    Page 2 of 2 - Community Economic Development Director Diane Shoemaker and Deputy Director Christian Mercurio shared Rome’s waterfront improvement project. The city of Rome also received grant funding through the Local Waterfront Revitalization program. Rome has already begun implementing waterfront project improvements. With the grant the City has worked on a number of projects that have enhanced the city’s waterfront as well as improved the city’s economy. Shoemaker said, Rome is home to Fort Stanwix, Griffiss Business and Technology Park, and offers a wide range of residential neighborhoods.
    “Since the waterfront is a ways from downtown the city partnered with many local businesses to make improvements throughout the areas that link between the waterfront and downtown areas to create tourist attention,” stated Shoemaker.
    Community Economic Development saved The Grand Hotel.
    “Originally, the hotel was set to be demolished but, since it was only a block away from the waterfront and has Rat Pack history, the hotel was worth saving,” said Mercurio. “The building is now home to two businesses as well as modern loft style apartments.
    Mercurio added, “it’s the first time in years the property is contributing to taxes which has improved Rome’s economy.”
    The old General Cable complex was also reconstructed and is now an environmental friendly manufacturing warehouse. Mercurio said the business is doing well and is also beginning to expand it’s facility.
    On the waterfront, Bellamy Harbor park is coming together. The waterfront landing has been expanded to enhance a park like look. A kayak launch has also been installed. The launch allows for easy canal entrance and exit access. Future construction plans include an amphitheater and pavilion.
    The Little Falls waterfront connection project involves the creation of a marina, additional parking at the harbor facility on Southern Avenue, adjacent to the city’s boat launch at the western end. If agreed upon, the grant will also support planning for a future pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the canal at Benton’s Landing to better connect Canal Place and downtown with the city’s South Side and harbor.
    The waterfront connection project grant plan must be completed and presented to the Common Council on July 10.

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