Posted on Thursday, 17 of April , 2008 at 9:51 pm
Catskill Park to help local governments plan for sustainable development and make the best use of the natural resources in the region.
The funding will be made available through the state Environmental Protection Fund for grants to promote “smart growth” programs in the Catskill Park following the successful launch of the program in the Adirondack Park. The grants will help communities implement sustainable projects that preserve the natural resources and cultural heritage of their communities while accommodating increased levels of tourism and related development. Smart growth can be used in rural areas to address some of the land-use issues facing the Park communities, such as workforce housing, aging infrastructure, water quality, economic development, open space protection and community revitalization.
“The Catskill Park is one of New York State’s greatest assets. It is a magnificent natural area that protects the water supplies of millions of New Yorkers while also providing outstanding recreational opportunities for state residents and visitors from around the world,” said Gov. David Paterson. “It is also home to more than 70,000 permanent residents whose livelihoods are intertwined with the continued protection of the region’s natural heritage and appropriate economic development opportunities.”
“Smart growth is based on the belief that environmental protection and sustainable development can and must go hand-in-hand – especially for communities surrounded by state forest preserve. Local governments in the Catskills face unique circumstances”, Peter Grannis, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation said. “Through this grant program, the State can assist them in dealing with such issues as community revitalization, green infrastructure needs, downtown improvement projects and sustainable job creation.”
Smart growth is planned growth that balances the need for economic development with concerns about quality-of-life, such as preserving the natural and built environment. Smart growth is also useful in attracting investments from an increasing number of businesses that consider quality-of-life factors in their decisions about where to establish business operations. A recent report from the state Economic Development Council found that access to outdoor recreation is a major factor in business location decisions.
The grants will be administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in partnership with the Department of State (DOS). The six grant recipients are: the towns of Andes, Middletown, Olive and Shandaken, and the villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville. Proposals will focus on projects that have been identified in previous planning studies to protect the region’s natural resources and accommodate sensible economic growth by revitalizing existing village and town centers.
A minimum of $40,000 will be made available for projects in each of the six communities should eligible projects be submitted, and the remaining funds will be awarded based on competitive rankings conducted by DEC in consultation with DOS and other state agency staff.
Officials said the program would provide much needed assistance to the Catskill communities. The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development will also assist the state in publicizing and explaining the opportunities available.
A “Request for Proposals” form is available at DEC’s web site at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/37874.html The grant application process will be open until June 20th. DEC plans to hold workshops for the eligible municipalities on April 23rd (times and locations will be announced soon). 4-17-08