Massena seeks to restore theater, make riverwalk, fund other projects with downtown grant
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 5:33 pm

By ANDY GARNDER
North Country This Week

MASSENA -- The village is seeking funding for about 20 projects through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative program, including restoring a downtown theater, creating a riverwalk and improving the local business climate through private partnerships.

Mayor Tim Currier said they are including around 20 projects, and would release specifics after they have submitted their application. The deadline is at the end of the month.

The program awards $100 million, divided into $10 million chunks, to each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils. St. Lawrence County is in the eight-county North Country region, along with Franklin, Clinton, Jefferson, Lewis, Essex, Herkimer and Hamilton counties.

Critics have referred to the program as “Hunger Games” funding.

Currier said the projects break down into three categories.

One major component is restoration of the former Schine’s Theater on Main Street. It has been vacant for over 20 years, but in 2015 featured a Halloween attraction at the end of October.

“Both the Celine Philibert Culture Center & Museum as well as the Public Library all play a role in this category as we capitalize on their drawing power to the downtown,” Mayor Tim Currier said in an email. “Additionally, we are including a historic walking tour to celebrate our past and improving an indoor event center and creating an outdoor event center and year-round gathering space.”

He said they are also looking to improve sidewalks, create a riverwalk and expand river access.

“The village & ultimately the downtown were created because of the Grasse River, in 1803 when the first mill was built,” Currier wrote in the email. “Recognizing the significance of this as well as the opportunities, we are expanding on the waterfront to include further recreation and business opportunities.”

In addition to that, Currier would want to see the village use part the DRI money to invest in partnerships with private investors and entrepreneurs to expand businesses and bring in new businesses.

“We are planning to invest heavily in workforce development, removing blight, creating business opportunities and connecting our downtown to the major attraction the area already offers,” Currier wrote, adding that “growing the economy by improving the business climate, creating business opportunities and improving worker skills is vital to our future.”