On March 3, 2023 in the state of New York, it was announced that the Village of Coxsackie will receive $4.5 million, and the Villages of Kinderhook and Cambridge will each receive $2.25 million in revitalization funding.
The grants are the result of their being the Capital Region winners of the first round of NY Forward, the state’s revitalization program for towns and villages.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “New York’s downtown communities are the heart and soul of our regions, and the NY Forward program is investing in our smaller downtowns to help ensure they can take part in our state’s renaissance of economic resurgence. As the first communities in the Capital Region to receive funding from NY Forward, Coxsackie, Kinderhook and Cambridge will now select projects that implement their visions for revitalization and put them on a path toward economic prosperity for generations to come.”
Building on the momentum of the State’s successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative (which is for larger communities), the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the DRI to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York’s smaller and rural communities.
As part of NY Forward Round One, two to three awards will be made to smaller communities in each of the state’s ten economic development regions to support development and implementation of a revitalization plan for their downtowns.
“New York’s small towns are huge drivers of our state’s economy – that’s why we’re investing in local communities to give residents the jobs, the tools, and the infrastructure they need to thrive,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “These investments will help the Villages of Coxsackie, Kinderhook, and Cambridge reimagine their downtowns, enhance quality of life for residents and visitors, and create new job and business opportunities across the Capital Region.”
NY Forward is a central component of the State’s economic revitalization efforts, working together with DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of New York’s downtowns.
NY Forward serves smaller communities with historic character that distinguishes them from the larger, more urban central business districts typically funded through DRI. NY Forward communities are walkable, less dense areas that serve the immediate local community, and are more local in nature – focusing on the immediately surrounding residential or rural agricultural centric development.
Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown through a slate of readily implementable projects. The Department of State will provide enhanced technical assistance to better support smaller communities that may have less capacity as part of the NY Forward program and fund projects appropriately scaled to the size of each community. Projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance the feeling of small-town charm.
Downtown Coxsackie is the quintessential small New York village with abounding natural amenities, a picturesque main thoroughfare and year-round art and cultural offerings.
This compact and walkable downtown community provides a welcoming destination to shop and visit in the Reed Street National District and outdoor recreational opportunities at the newly renovated Riverside Park, which also hosts the Coxsackie Farmers’ Market from May to September and the Music in the Park summer concert series.
Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans said, “On behalf of residents of the Village of Coxsackie I want to thank Governor Hochul for this generous grant. This grant will allow us to continue the revitalization of our Village and continue the vision for our downtown/waterfront area.”
While one of many communities along the Hudson River, Coxsackie has perhaps the most publicly accessible and level acreage with extensive views; a true front-porch feel.
A recent influx of new residents and job growth opportunities are helping to revive the Village’s economy, making further investment in arts, housing and entertainment and recreation sectors possible.
The Village seeks to leverage its best attributes, including the area’s natural beauty and rural small-town feel, to create a community where people want to live, work and play. Coxsackie will realize that vision through public improvement projects, arts and culture enhancements, and improved and expanded housing options to further revitalization.
The Village of Kinderhook offers its residents a quality of life that is defined by its local history and strong community ties. Kinderhook’s center is defined by its Village Square – a charming public park area that serves as the center of community gathering and commercial and civic life.
Kinderhook Mayor Michael Abrams said, “We are grateful for the trust and partnership with Governor Hochul and the State of New York in providing this critically important funding. These funds will help us sustain our historical structures and attract and grow small businesses which are the life blood of our community.”
The Village’s original network of tree-lined, pedestrian streets, array of retail and food establishments and its string of green parks invite recreational opportunities for families and individuals of all ages and mobility.
From the Village’s four world-class art galleries to the Columbia County Historical Society to the award-winning Kinderhook Farmers’ Market, Kinderhook attracts a diverse community of residents and visitors.
Recent local private and federal investment has invigorated Kinderhook’s commercial resurgence and spurred job growth and opportunity. The Village of Kinderhook seeks to become a gateway community to the natural, cultural and historic assets of Columbia County.
With a commitment to creating a sustainable community and future for Kinderhook, the vision is to now build on the community’s unique character and diversity, enhance quality of life and empower the village economy.
This vision will be achieved by improving accessibility and safety for bicycling and walking, re-energizing vacant storefronts, improving historic buildings and facilities and expanding recreational amenities.
The Village of Cambridge is an economic, social, and cultural hub in rural Washington County. Its landscape is formed by rolling hills dotted with working farms, picturesque hamlets and scenic views of the Adirondack and Taconic mountains of New York and Green Mountains of Vermont.
It is a historic settlement, founded in 1761, with two-mile-long main arteries, Main Street and Park Street, lined with historic houses, shops, businesses, community gathering places and the regional public K-12 school.
Cambridge Mayor Carman Bogle said, “On behalf of the Village of Cambridge, we are honored to be the recipient of the NY Forward grant. We look forward to working with the State to bring our downtown revitalization plan to life.”
The Village is compact, walkable, and contains enough key attractions to encourage people to live in the Village, including the Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, the Valley Artisans Market and the Cambridge Valley Farmers Market.
This small-urbanized community envisions remaining a center of economic, social and cultural activity for the region—an incubator for entrepreneurs, artists and agriculturalists. The Village aims to offer an excellent quality of life, celebrate its history and connections to the natural environment and serve as an active space where diverse people of all ages and abilities live, work, innovate, play, explore and connect.
Cambridge will focus on projects that rehabilitate and update historic structures, create trails and connections among natural resources, address important infrastructure concerns and expanding housing options.
Assemblymember Scott Bendett said, “I am pleased to see that Coxsackie, Kinderhook and Cambridge are the Capital Region winners of the first round of the NY Forward Program. This program aims to support our communities with downtown revitalization and recovery, and these towns are very deserving. I am excited to see what recovery efforts and developments occur as a result of this funding.”
The Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered the criteria below before recommending these communities as nominees:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
- There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
- The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
- The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a Strategic Investment Plan;
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of NY Forward funds; and
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.
Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “There is abundant charm and natural beauty to be found in the Villages of Coxsackie, Kinderhook and Cambridge, and the NY Forward plan to revitalize the state’s smaller and rural communities will build on that appeal to fuel their economic vibrancy. These first-round winners now have the funding to support plans that will better connect their downtowns, create access to natural resources and further improvements in arts, infrastructure and housing.”
Coxsackie, Kinderhook and Cambridge will now begin the process of developing Strategic Investment Plans to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead these efforts, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners.
The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community’s vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.
Featured photo of downtown Kinderhook courtesy of the Village of Kinderhook.