FULTON — Less than two months after the city of Fulton was announced as the winner of a $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, the city’s local planning committee convened for the first time to start the process that ultimately selects which projects receive funding.

Fulton received the $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award Aug. 14 with the city’s fourth attempt at the “transformational” prize. A 28-member local planning committee was selected to work with consultants and state agencies to develop the Strategic Investment Plan to ultimately act as a guideline to revitalize the city’s downtown.

Representatives of Cameron Engineering and Associates, a Woodbury, New York-based consulting firm hired by the state, led Thursday’s meeting, which laid out the upcoming schedule and the expectations of committee members to be transparent and ethical throughout the process.

The first public engagement meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7, and officials encourage members of the community to attend. Officials said a website would be developed to keep the community engaged and informed throughout the DRI planning process.

Sarah Oral, a consultant with Cameron, said public participation is “one of the major aspects of a successful DRI application,” and noted Fulton has so far done an excellent job including the public in their planning.

“We hope that people will come to the meetings,” Oral said. “The more people that participate in this, the more transparent the whole process is, and the more the community feels that they’ve had a part in the process.”

Fulton’s local planning committee is chaired by Common Council President Don Patrick, D-3rd Ward, and L. Michael Treadwell, the executive director of the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency. The committee is rounded out with various residents representing industries, arts and education.

The local planning committee is tasked with developing a Strategic Investment Plan, which will examines local assets and identify opportunities for economic development, transportation, housing and other projects that align with the community’s downtown revitalization vision.

Cameron officials noted the Strategic Investment Plan is scheduled for completion by March 2020, and the planning process would move forward quickly.

“This process is incredibly compressed,” Cameron’s Kevin McAndrew said. “Your input from today and going forward, your collaboration, your feedback, your review is critical to the success of this plan.”

The city’s 2019 DRI proposal included 26 potential transformative projects, but local leaders and stakeholders over the course of the next year will join with state officials to identify priority projects and ultimately allocate the funding.  Projects not included in the initial application are still eligible to receive funding, but must be identified prior to Nov. 8.

Gov. Cuomo’s visit to the city presented the same opportunity to Fulton leaders that Oswego received in 2016. The August announcement in Fulton came a little more than three years after the city of Oswego was awarded the first round of funding through the DRI, and as several of those projects were breaking ground or nearing completion.

The final DRI projects are likely to be announced sometime next summer, according to state officials. Oswego won the DRI in July 2016 and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul returned in July 2017 to announce which projects would receive funding, but the first project was not completed until November 2018. 

Officials said $9.7 million would ultimately be awarded to various projects in the city of Fulton. 

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