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For Release: Tuesday, June 2, 2015

DEC Awards $400,000 in Smart Growth Grants to Eight Catskill Communities

Local governments and non-profit organizations in the Catskill region received $400,000 in Catskill Smart Growth Implementation grants, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The grants will support projects that enable Catskill communities to capitalize on their unique natural setting to improve community livability and foster economic vitality.

"These eight awards totaling $400,000 for Catskill local governments and not-for-profits are an investment in the region that will bring sustained economic benefits to the area and help draw visitors to enjoy the Catskills' magnificent natural resources," Commissioner Martens said. "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York is working to promote the outstanding Catskill recreational opportunities to the millions of people who are just a short car ride away."

DEC administers the Catskill Smart Growth Implementation program in partnership with the New York State Department of State. The program provides direct support to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for park-wide initiatives that promote critical, shared priorities of local residents, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations and state agencies, including economic development, sustainable recreation and tourism. As regional development pressures on Park communities increase, this program is designed to reinforce the assets of the villages and hamlets and help preserve the heritage of the Catskill Park. By supporting capital projects that apply smart growth principles to the unique nature of the Catskill Park, the program aims to enhance the connection of residents and visitors to the area's exceptional natural resources.

This year's awards focus on implementing projects, both regional and local, that are supported by prior planning and are now ready to move forward. This is the second round of smart growth funding through the Environmental Protection Fund to support Catskill Park communities, building on the success of the first round that focused on projects along the Route 28 corridor. Previous local funding supported the development of plans to establish direct links between the region's natural resources and its man-made infrastructure and buildings, as well as to help underutilized hamlets and villages use historic resources to attract visitors.

The state, through other programs such as the Department of State's Watershed Planning and Implementation grants, Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and post-storm recovery planning, has provided funding for comprehensive plans, strategic investment plans, revision of land use regulations, stormwater management plans and qualified capital improvement projects.

"Whether it's investing in resiliency projects, building paths to connect businesses and residents, or enhancing recreation areas, these grants will help protect our health and natural environment and make the Catskills region more attractive, economically stronger and more socially diverse," said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "Smart Growth principals advanced by these projects are an integral part of Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils. The Department of State looks forward to continue working with DEC and all Smart Growth State agencies to reinvigorate communities across New York State."

Senator James L. Seward said, "Investing in the Catskill Park will help unlock the region's full potential, protect our natural assets, and boost prospects for economic development. The winning projects selected to receive funding through the DEC's Smart Growth Implementation Grants Program will meet real needs and pay long term dividends for the region."

"Many of our small, rural towns and villages continue to struggle in the face of the prolonged recession; a job made even harder by the devastation brought by Hurricanes Irene and Lee," said Assemblyman Pete Lopez. "We know how critical it is for the state to be a partner in helping lift our communities up. These awards will go a long way in helping our hard working community partners promote tourism and recreational access, strengthen their main streets and contribute to the region's quality of life."

The Catskill Park was created in the early 20th Century to protect this mountainous and scenic region. It is also home to a portion of the New York City reservoir system that relies on the beautiful forests to deliver pure water to millions of New Yorkers daily. The Catskill Park is known as a superb tourist and outdoor recreational destination with picturesque hamlets nestled within its lofty mountains. The Catskill Park consists of approximately 705,000 acres, almost half of which are "forever wild" lands of the Catskill Forest Preserve. In addition, the city of New York holds approximately 80,000 acres in the region. The area offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails and fishing on its fabled waterways. The Park serves as watershed, recreation area, and ecological and scenic reserve.

2015 Catskill Smart Growth Implementation Awards

1) Town of Lexington, Greene County ($64,425) - Lexington Waterfront Park Project
Lexington will create a park on the north bank of the Schoharie Creek, on County Route 13A, to improve public access to the community's natural resources. The park will encompass 150 yards of riverfront in the center of town and the adjacent DEC fishing access site.
The park is the first phase of implementing the town of Lexington's Long-Term Community Recovery Strategy, developed following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene. The project will involve work on two properties that the town is acquiring through a FEMA buyout program. Work will include green infrastructure, parkland improvements, a sitting area with an aspen grove, a naturalized children's play area, a pavilion, restrooms and picnic facilities.

2) Catskill Watershed Corporation ($50,000) - Catskill Park Wayfinding Sign Project
The project will include informational and directional signs, Catskill Park logo signs and support structures to implement a wayfinding sign system.
The system will point the way to recreational resources adjacent to or accessible from state and local roads throughout the Park. The project will consist of a coordinated work program that will involve key stakeholders and partners in the identification of local, state and New York City-owned recreational resources and the installation of the signage over the next three years.

3) Windham Area Recreation Foundation and the town of Windham, Greene County ($50,000) - Windham Path Phase III - Hensonville Center to Maplecrest Center
The Windham Path is a trail for non-motorized users to connect the residential, business and activity centers of Windham, Hensonville and Maplecrest along the Batavia Kill. The Path has a hard-packed, non-paved surface for cyclists, pedestrians, cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
It's the centerpiece of the vision to develop Windham as a four-season destination that attracts outdoor enthusiasts and improves the quality of life for its residents. The path will be constructed over eight phases with the first two-mile segment already in full use. The awarded project involves the construction of the next 2.4 mile phase that will begin in Hensonville and continue along the Batavia Kill to Maplecrest and include a pedestrian bridge spanning the stream.

4) Town of Hunter, Greene County ($26,131) - Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway Gateway Signage Project
This project, more than five years in the making, came to fruition in July 2013 when Governor Cuomo signed legislation to designate a 41-mile corridor in Hunter as the "Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway." The byway, the first in the Catskill Park, links Platte Clove Road with sections of Route 23A and Route 214 through the town of Hunter and villages of Hunter and Tannersville.

The grant will fund design and installation of five informational kiosks throughout the Catskill Park. In addition, the town of Hunter will use part of the grant to design and print a brochure to promote the byway and the hamlets and villages within the town.

5) Town of Cairo, Greene County ($75,000) - Cairo Main Street Multi-Modal Pathway Project
The town of Cairo will construct a multi-modal pathway linking the central business district in the hamlet of Cairo with newer development in its east end.
The project is an integral part of the planned Main Street revitalization and includes construction of approximately a half-mile of sidewalks and bike path on the east end of Main Street (County Route 23B), several pocket parks, pavement marking, drainage improvements and the relocation of utilities.

6) Village of Fleischmanns, Delaware County ($45,482) - Gateway Enhancement Project
Fleischmanns will develop a gateway enhancement project at the east end of the village featuring a pocket park that will include landscaping, benches, street lamps and signage and will greatly increase visibility of the village entrance, creating a welcoming environment for cyclists and pedestrians. The project area is located at the easternmost entrance to the village which is directly connected to the NYS Route 28 corridor.

The Corridor is currently under review for Scenic Byway status making this project critical to draw visitors into the village while serving as a complementary element to the Scenic Byway.

7) Town of Andes, Delaware County ($45,481) - Ballantine Park Improvements Project
The town will create two new structures within the historic Ballantine Park at the western edge of the hamlet of Andes. The town will build a gazebo and footbridge in the park to further develop its self-guided history trail. The structures will allow for outdoor presentations, including concerts and lectures. The town will also complete a Riverwalk that will pass through the park as identified in its 2003 Comprehensive Plan.

This scenic, rural and well-situated hamlet is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. While maintaining its downtown economic activity, the hamlet has thus far avoided any sprawling development that would detract from its picturesque, walkable character.

8) Town of Neversink, Sullivan County ($45,481) - Town Park Project
The town will create a walking path around the perimeter of its new recreational park, as well as plant trees, shrubs and storm water retention plantings throughout the park. It will also feature new ball fields, a picnic pavilion, an exercise path and bio-retention rain gardens. These features will further enhance the beauty and recreational potential of the park and make it an inviting destination for visitors.

The stormwater protection components will contribute to the natural filtration of water within the New York City watershed. The park is in close proximity to downtown, the local library and school, and is anticipated to attract and retain recreational and economic activity within the community center.

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