Village of Cooperstown To Receive $4.5 Million Via NY Forward Program

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh proudly displays the village’s giant check representing an award announced last week of $4.5 million from the first round of the state’s new NY Forward program. Shown with Tillapaugh, from left, are Assemblymember Chris Tague, Village of Sharon Springs Mayor Douglas Plummer and Senator Peter Oberacker. Photo provided

Village of Cooperstown To Receive
$4.5 Million Via NY Forward Program

Villages of Sharon Springs, Dolgeville
Will Receive $2.25 Million Apiece



Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh didn’t know the Village of Cooperstown was to receive $4.5 million until Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez announced the award right in front of her during a press conference last week.

State dignitaries and area officials had gathered on Thursday, March 2 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where it was revealed that the Village of Cooperstown will receive $4.5 million, and the Villages of Sharon Springs and Dolgeville will each receive $2.25 million in funding, as the Mohawk Valley winners of the first round of NY Forward.

“I was kind of hopeful,” Tillapaugh said. “I knew we had an application pending with the state, and that it was possible to be granted $4.5 million or $2.25 million.”

However, she had been invited to many award ceremonies not involving the Village of Cooperstown at all.
When people began to congratulate her, Mayor Tillapaugh knew something was, indeed, afoot.

“It could be anything. I didn’t know exactly, until it was announced,” she said.

Tillapaugh and Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk submitted their NY Forward application in September of last year. In October, they were invited to pitch their ideas to the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council in a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation. That quarter of an hour really paid off.

Building on the momentum of the state’s successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the DRI to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York’s smaller and rural communities. The Village of Cooperstown had thrown its hat in the ring previously for DRI grant monies, but was unsuccessful.

“We applied for Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. There was no grant round in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2022, the state developed NY Forward specifically for small communities. The Governor understood our differences,” Tillapaugh said.

“Ensuring small towns and cities have the resources they need to thrive is critical to New York’s economic resurgence,” Governor Hochul said in a press release last week. “These investments will help the Village of Cooperstown, Sharon Springs, and Dolgeville develop their downtowns, improve the quality of life for residents and visitors, and create new jobs and attract businesses to expand economic opportunity across the region.”

NY Forward is a central component of the state’s economic development efforts, working together with DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of New York’s downtowns. NY Forward serves smaller communities with historic character that distinguishes them from the larger, more urban central business districts typically funded through DRI. NY Forward communities are walkable, less dense areas that serve the immediate local community, and are more local in nature—focusing on the immediately surrounding residential or rural agricultural centric development.

“We are very pleased that Governor Hochul and the Mohawk Valley Economic Council has created the NY Forward program, and it is perfect for a village like Cooperstown. This $4.5 million award for this small village, which has different components and needs, will make a big difference,” Tillapaugh said.

The village’s grant application identified six priority concerns that could be resolved by projects within the NY Forward guidelines:

• encourage development of apartment-style housing
• ensure greater business diversity for year-round shopping
• further enhance the viewshed from Main Street to Otsego Lake
• link existing neighborhoods, open space, and recreational areas
• make the Village Hall a community anchor
• explore feasibility of mixed-use development in the vicinity of Doubleday Field

“For instance,” Tillapaugh said, “we would like to make Hoffman Lane pedestrian friendly and more welcoming. We want to improve accessibility to the lake from Main Street and enhance entrances into Lakefront Park, perhaps with interpretive signage.”

According to the grant narrative, “With design and engineering plans complete, the construction of an accessible Viewing Platform in Lakefront Park will provide greater access to Otsego Lake for visitors and residents. Located just one block from the Village’s Main Street via Hoffman Lane, this 2.6-acre dedicated park land has benefited from Village investment in floating boat docks, a boat wash station, and improvements to the Fish Road boat launch to provide greater recreational opportunities. The construction of an accessible platform will further improve access to Lake Otsego for all, particularly for non-boaters.”

New housing projects on the horizon and the Village’s successful Planned Development Districts were also outlined in the grant application.

So what’s next, now that the funds have been secured?

Cooperstown, Sharon Springs and Dolgeville will begin the process of developing Strategic Investment Plans to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead these efforts, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community’s vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.

“The Department of State is not just turning us loose,” Tillapaugh laughed. “Danny Lapin, a revitalization specialist with the state, has been assigned to help us. We will be meeting with him next Tuesday.”
Ultimately, Tillapaugh and her team are nothing less than thrilled.

“Grants are the only way to meet our growing needs. We applied for five years, getting nothing. The DRI just wasn’t a good fit. NY Forward, though, is ideal for a community like Cooperstown, and this award further recognizes the importance of Cooperstown as an economic engine for the region,” she said.

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