Picente unveils new Main Street Program

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UTICA — In a Wednesday announcement, Oneida County’s Main Street Program to provide support to local municipal downtown development projects, assist in the safe and efficient redesign of main streets and promote investment and business growth.

“Revitalizing our main streets will not just make them safer and more accessible, but will bring customers back, create jobs and foster private investment,” Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said. 

“A $500,000 fund for planning assistance, with a 50-50 match between the municipalities and the county will be available to develop unique main street programs in participating communities. Once the main street planning is completed, the projects included within will be funded through a $5 million fund that will be capitalized over two years,” according to information from the county.

Funds for the projects are made possible through the federally-backed American Rescue Fund.

Picente first mentioned this plan in his State of the County Address earlier this year. The program was developed to provide county-level support to local municipalities’ downtown development projects.

Among project highlights for street-scaping in cities, towns and villages:

• The program aims to improve safety, provide better access to local businesses, allow people to move safely on foot, accommodate bicyclists, support climate smart investments, provide a sense of place and enhance communities.

• There is no singular design format for a main street project. Projects in rural hamlets, villages, townships and small cities will look different from those found in the larger cities.

• Through the program, municipalities can rebrand their main streets including complete street designs, parking, streetscapes, facade programs, public space design and entrance way development.

Picente said the county has already received interest from multiple municipalities, including the City of Sherrill, which plans to utilize the program to help fund new pedestrian-accessibility enhancements along the State Route 5 corridor between Sherrill Road and Betsinger Road.

Speaking at the news conference were local officials whose communities were mulling projects.

“Without the county’s assistance we would not be able to bring our enhancement project to fruition, and I look forward to partnering in this endeavor which will greatly benefit our residents, ” said Sherrill Mayor William Vineall, in a portion of a prepared statement.

Vineall said potential projects in Sherrill could include sidewalk and street light improvements along the Sherrill Road corridor.

“Main streets and downtowns are the lifeblood of our communities and are the key to strengthening our economies and recovering from the fallout of the pandemic,” stated Verona Town Supervisor Scott Musacchio.

The supervisor added that a potential project in his town could be a connector road between an 80 acre parcel on Willow Place and State Route 365.

The town was looking for funding for the project just prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but like many things, that got put on the back burner.

Now, is an opportunity to jumpstart paused projects Picente said, adding that he would like to get the pot of money used by as many communities as possible within the next two years.

County officials also said that the county planning department could sit down with municipalities to flesh out project ideas into something workable.

The Oneida County Department of Planning has an Application and Information Packet and Program Guidebook available on the county website, ocgov.net.

The Department of Planning can also be reached for more information at 315-798-5710.

To view the recording of the news conference, visit: https://fb.watch/71p72elUHK/

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