$3.7 million available for ‘smart growth’ projects in Adirondack and Catskill Park

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New York Construction Report staff writer

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in partnership with the Department of State and the Adirondack Park Agency, is accepting applications for projects that will link environmental protection, economic development, and community livability in the Forest Preserve.

Projects must focus on affordable housing. Smart Growth Grants totaling $3.7 million are available for communities and not-for-profit organizations in the Adirondack and Catskill parks.

“Smart growth projects help communities strike a balance between development and protection of natural resources, bolstering local efforts to capitalize on the benefits provided by nearby natural resources while fostering sustainable development and economic stability without negative environmental impacts,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

Funding for these grants is provided by the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and includes $2.7 million for Adirondack Park projects and $1 million for projects in the Catskill Park. The goal of this grant program is to support projects that build on comprehensive planning and economic development activities.

In the 2023-24 state budget EPF funding was set at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history.

Eligible projects should support larger community development projects, such as revitalization efforts, capital improvements, and organizational development or capacity building, and may include but are not limited to:

  • Providing bike-friendly routes and amenities;
  • Improving or promoting local/regional museums and theaters;
  • Main Street façade improvement;
  • Refurbishing historic properties;
  • Providing community-based tourism programs and activities;
  • Creating new recreational opportunities;
  • Multi-use trail development;
  • Wayfinding and informational signage and kiosks;
  • Enhancing parks and public spaces;
  • Zoning updates;
  • Visitor center improvements;
  • Beautifying tourism sites; and
  • Providing sidewalks in hamlets and villages.

The grant program also welcomes applications for development of comprehensive and/or local land use plans, as well as updates to existing plans.

The Request for Applications is available through the New York State Grants Gateway and the deadline to apply is 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024.

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