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Massena economic officials set meetings on downtown revitalization

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MASSENA — Economic development officials hope to see communitywide involvement in their efforts to revitalize downtown.

The Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena has set two public meetings on using $250,000 in grant funds, awarded by the New York State Main Street Grant Program, to improve the village’s downtown corridor.

BDC Executive Director Michael V. Almasian urged any downtown business owners interested in applying for grant funding to revitalize their building to attend the meetings at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the Town Hall.

The first meeting will be more of an information session to inform the community on the scope and goals of the revitalization effort. Mr. Almasian said the meeting will include presentations by consultant Rick Hauser of InSite: Architecture, which will touch on the boundaries of downtown as defined by the grant and the BDC’s vision for an organized downtown that preserves many of Massena’s historic structures. BDC officials also will distribute informational materials for those interested in using grant money.

Mr. Almasian said anyone involved in using grant funding should be at the meeting, but he would also like any community members interested in improving downtown to attend.

The second meeting will focus primarily on forming the various committees required to identify how to use the funding. These committees are open to anyone in the community and will include a parking committee, a historic preservation committee, a code revision committee and a downtown theatre committee.

Mr. Almasian said the members of these committees will form a permanent group called the Massena Downtown Coalition. After the grant funds are used, the coalition will continue to meet regularly to determine additional steps to revitalize downtown and to apply for future grants to pay for the work.

The revitalization grant will target businesses on or near Main Street, between the Massena Post Office and the North Main Street bridge — the area the grant identified as downtown Massena.

The program requires all owners to match the funds the grant provides them. If all $250,000 of the funds were used, the Main Street grant would create a minimum of $500,000 in public-private investment. But downtown business owners have pledged an additional $1,923,500 on top of the $250,000 grant, totaling $2,173,5000 in pledged investments, according to Massena’s former economic development specialist, Jason A. Clark.

Mr. Almasian said he expects most of the work related to the grant funding will take place in late summer or early autumn.

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