Fredonia Prepares $10M DRI Application

FREDONIA — The village is hoping a stronger application with more detail — and opportunities to improve its historical downtown — will generate a better result in this year’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s third round of funding.

Through DRI, a $10 million award will be given to a municipality in the Western New York region. Also, four $2.5 million awards will be handed out through the state’s Smart Growth program. The city of Dunkirk and village of Gowanda were two of the four recipients last year.

Mayor Athanasia Landis said during a recent meeting that the village is beginning to review project proposals for submission to the state. Landis said they’re staying with some projects seen in last year’s application in addition to furthering newer ones.

“We’re staying with the same projects pretty much, but we’re trying to put in a little more detail,” Landis said. “And (we’re) being in communication with developers so they can give us an idea as to how much they need, where this project is going and how long it’s going to take, and if it’ll produce jobs and what kind of jobs. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish and it’s been challenging.”

Improvements to village hall and the 1891 Opera House, streetscapes and replacing the west municipal parking lot are among the projects set for inclusion in the village’s application.

Nate Aldrich, community economic development specialist with Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation’s Local Economic Development Initiative, said they’re hoping to get a good mix of public and private projects in this year’s application.

“Analyzing other applicants with Western New York Region, it’s my opinion, but I think Fredonia’s right up there in communities that haven’t been funded through DRI or Smart Growth,” Aldrich said. “I think it’s absolutely worth submitting a strong proposal. We do have some challenges, we don’t check some boxes compared to our competition across the region. But we also do have a lot of opportunities as compared to other communities. We have Fredonia State. We have a really intact historic downtown. It could use some improvements, but we have some other opportunities for both public and private investment.”

Communities in the region submitting applications to the DRI are nominated by the state’s Western New York Regional Economic Development Council based on the downtown’s transformation potential. Municipalities obtaining the award must develop a strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization.