North Country Regional Economic Development Council Announces Ives Park Access Enhancement Project Breaks Ground in Potsdam
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) today joined with New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales and local officials to break ground in Potsdam, kicking off the start of construction of the Ives Park Access Enhancement Project. The local waterfront revitalization project, which is moving forward on the strength of $571,232 in awards from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative, is a Regional Council priority project and will create a new river walk trail in Ives Park with a walkway along the Raquette River shoreline in the Village of Potsdam.
“As part of our vision to activate tourism as a driver to diversify the North Country economy, the Council is actively supporting initiatives that transform the region by driving community development and leveraging private investment,” said Anthony G. Collins, President of Clarkson University and co-chair of the NCREDC. “All along the Raquette River corridor, regional partners are developing an environmentally friendly infrastructure that benefits local residents and tourists alike.”
“It’s great to have another one of our Priority Projects start construction, especially one such as this that will not only be very positive for Potsdam but is part of a series of projects along the Raquette River which will build tourism while also enhancing quality of life,” said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the NCREDC. “It provides another example of progress in the North Country through partnership, and we thank the Village for taking the lead and making this happen.”
Today’s groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction of the project, which includes the development and construction of a new river walk trail in Ives Park with a 6 foot wide walkway along the Raquette River shoreline from the intersection of Water and Maple Streets south through Ives Park with a return loop to Bay and Water Streets. The Riverwalk will connect to similar pedestrian/bicycle routes to Fall Island Park and to Clarkson University's Munter Trail, which follows the river shoreline from its campus to the Village limits at Bayside Cemetery. Collectively, these three trails will open 3.5 miles of waterfront to the public for its use and enjoyment. The Raquette Riverwalk was identified as a high priority in Potsdam's Downtown and Waterfront Revitalization Plan.
“The Village of Potsdam is honored to have New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales join us to celebrate the beginning of the Ives Park Access Enhancement Project,” said Village of Potsdam Mayor Steven W, Yugartis. “Working with the Secretary’s staff in the Division of Coastal Resources, our volunteer Local Waterfront Revitalization Advisory Committee with assistance from the Village’s Panning and Development Office and its Department of Public Works developed a Downtown and Waterfront Revitalization Plan that was too well thought out to sit on a shelf. The Ives Park Access Enhancement Project is the first step in the implementation of the Village’s plan to make downtown Potsdam and especially its magnificent Raquette River shoreline an outstanding place to live, work, study and play.”
The Village of Potsdam Ives Park Access Enhancement is part of a collaborative effort to enhance recreational and tourism opportunities involving 17 communities along the 174-mile Raquette River Blueway Trail corridor. Communities along the Raquette River corridor are developing and advancing projects from the Raquette River Corridor Blueway Trail Plan and the Village of Potsdam Downtown and Waterfront Revitalization Plan, with assistance provided by the Department of State (DOS) through the Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (EPF LWRP).
New York Secretary of State Perales said, “I am proud that the New York Department of State could be a part of this effort and that the Environmental Protection Fund’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program played a role in the revitalization of the Village of Potsdam. An enhanced waterfront will rejuvenate tourism and foster economic development of the region.”
In 2011, Governor Cuomo redefined the State’s approach to economic development by establishing 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) across the State. The REDC and Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process have transformed economic development in New York State, creating a statewide framework for bottom-up regional economic growth.
As part of the REDC process, the Village of Potsdam and the Towns of Canton and Colton were the recipients of a 2011 CFA award totaling $346,923 to advance waterfront revitalization and blueway trail development on the Raquette River and Grasse River. The project includes design and construction of a number of access improvements at Ives Park in the Village of Potsdam including: construction of a new ADA-compliant river walk trail along the Raquette River shoreline and construction of streetscape improvements to provide linkages between Ives Park and adjoining neighborhoods. The grant also includes funding for the design and construction of a number of trail side facilities at the Stone Valley whitewater area in the hamlet of Colton and an assessment of the engineering, economic and market feasibility of the development of whitewater kayak parks on the Raquette River in the Village of Potsdam and on the Grasse River in the Town of Canton.
In the second round of the REDC competition, the Village of Potsdam, in cooperation with the communities in the Raquette River Blueway Corridor, was awarded $143,610 through the Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The grant allowed for the implementation and design of the Downtown Riverwalk in the Village of Potsdam. The grant also included funding for the development of an oral history project on the construction of hydro electric generating facilities on the Raquette River; outreach on the Raquette River Voluntary Stewardship Plan; design and installation of 15 Raquette River Blueway information kiosks; and construction of a handicapped access ramp and handicapped accessible restroom in the Colton Information Center at Stone Valley.
Town of Colton Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger said, “Someone once said, “Change is the norm of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” This project definitely is looking to the future and generations to come. It restores my faith in government to witness first- hand the partnership behind such a worthwhile effort. The Town of Colton is pleased to be part of the Raquette River Blueway Corridor partnership and to work with other communities in the corridor on improvements for residents and visitors alike.”
Town of Canton Supervisor, David T. Button said, “We know how important our waterfront is to the economic health and vitality of our individual communities. This collaborative effort between Canton, Colton and Potsdam will help attract outdoor enthusiasts to our area. If we can develop and promote these key sites, it will make St. Lawrence County a destination spot for people who appreciate the beauty and recreational opportunities that both the Grasse and Racquette Rivers provide. We appreciate the fact that the North Country Regional Economic Development Council recognized the potential for this joint venture and gave it priority status. This is the kind of growth that makes sense for our towns.”
The Department of State works in partnership with more than 300 communities across New York State through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, from Sag Harbor on Long Island’s east end to Buffalo along Lake Erie to address numerous waterfront issues, such as economic development, protecting natural resources, and enhancing public access opportunities.
The Regional Economic Development Council initiative is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s transformative approach to State investment and economic development. The Councils are public-private partnerships composed of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. As a result of the first two rounds of awards, $1.5 billion in resources have been awarded to support more than 1,400 regionally significant economic development and community revitalization projects that are creating or helping to retain an estimated 75,000 jobs across the Empire State and generating investments to grow the economy. For more information on the regional councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.