By Dave Warner

Last week, the Village of Dolgeville took the next step in the New York Forward program, which is meant to invigorate and revitalize downtowns in New York’s smaller and rural communities—the type of downtowns found in villages, hamlets, and other small, neighborhood-scale municipal centers.

NY Forward builds on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s (DRI) success by adopting the DRI’s “Plan-then-Act” strategy. The State has allocated $100 million for the first round of NY Forward, and Dolgeville was a first-round winner of a $2.25 million grant.

Stefan Lutter, team lead, stated, “This was the kickoff meeting where we’re just getting started. For many of us, it’s the first time we’ve been here. We’ve seen the pictures and the application the Dolgeville community put together, but we haven’t been here.”

He said it was an excellent opportunity for the team to access and start the process. “In a few weeks, it will officially get underway with Local Planning Committee (LPC) meeting number one later in May. At that point, the planning process will truly begin.”

Lutter said the goal is to develop a strategic implementation plan for the Forward area, complete with recommended projects “That will catalyze the revitalization of downtown Dolgeville.”

Mayor Mary Puznowski said, “We met with representatives from the New York State, Department of State, LaBarge Group engineers, representatives from the Village of Dolgville, and the regional economic development council. They wanted to have an overview of our downtown area and the areas that were included in our NY Forward grant.”

“We also looked at the Center Park area and other areas within the Brownfield Opportunity nomination study, so pretty much most of Main Street,” she stated.

Puznowski said that she feels the visit went really well. “Both the Department of State and the engineering firm were so happy to see things and have boots on the ground to actually get a feel for the Village they’re going to be working in.”

They discussed many of the challenges on Main Street, which was better than just looking at a Google map. “They looked at traffic patterns and were able to observe how much traffic we have on Main St.”

Puznowski said, “It was just a great opportunity to meet one another and interact.”

There will be monthly Local Planning Committee (LPC) meetings for the next several months, which are open to the public. There will be an opportunity for public comment as well. The first meeting is scheduled for May 31 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in the community room in Dolgeville‘s Walker Kirby (Bassett) Healthcare Facility.

Those meetings will help decide “Where best to place the $2.25 million award that we got from New York State,” she stated.

“There are several community members from a broad range of ages to many different backgrounds, giving us a broad spectrum of citizens to work on this committee. They’ll focus on how to best spend the money to revitalize our downtown.”

She said, “I’m just really excited about this opportunity. To be one of the first award winners in New York State for this award – can be a real boost to our downtown revitalization effort.”