Press-Republican

November 10, 2012

Panel aims for Rouses Point revitalization

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — ROUSES POINT — A new Rouses Point Revitalization Committee is working to identify key downtown and waterfront properties to target for potential redevelopment.

Rouses Point has a number of advantages that could make it attractive for development, Revitalization Project Manager Melissa McManus said at a recent meeting. Those include Lake Champlain, its proximity to the border, cheap electrical rates and a high traffic volume.

FIRST FOCUS

The initial project is a study of the best ways to leverage downtown and waterfront development.

McManus is working with Troy-based River Street Planning and Development to identify key vacant or underutilized properties in the those areas.

Plans call for a walking tour of downtown on Monday, Nov. 26, followed by a meeting to discuss the key potential sites for redevelopment.

OWNERS CRUCIAL

McManus said it is important to realize the parcels are private property and to respect the wishes of the owners. A key will be to learn what the owner’s goals are and how the village may be able to assist in meeting them.

“This is all about driving private-sector investment,” she said.

River Street Planning will develop a database of available vacant properties and identify which make the most sense for redevelopment. They will be reviewed by the New York Department of State and the local committee.

McManus and River Street

Planning would then contact the property owners to gauge their interest. Based on that interest, a final list of key properties would be compiled.

River Street Planning is also tasked with performing a market study to identify what size lodging establishments would most likely be successful in Rouses Point.

The consultants will be asked to identify possible funding sources, such as a nonprofit redevelopment organization, that could qualify for funds through the State Department of Housing and Community Renewal’s Rural Assistance Revitalization Program.

This initial revitalization project is funded by a $10,000 grant from the New York Department of State Local Waterfront Program.

PFIZER IMPACT

The Village Board and treasurer Arsene Letourneau will be asked to provide figures on the impact of the pending closure of Pfizer, presently scheduled for the end of 2013.

“We are at a critical point in Rouses Point’s history,” McManus said.

While the biggest impact will be felt by the people losing jobs and the village tax base declining, the committee also needs to look at the effect on other businesses and the housing market.

“There is no doubt the closure of Pfizer is going to have a big impact on the Village of Rouses Point,” McManus said.

There should also be an analysis of the village’s zoning, planning and property-maintenance codes to see whether any changes could promote redevelopment.

CITIZEN INPUT

Village resident Bob O’Neil said several key properties are readily apparent, naming the former Anchorage Restaurant, Kathy’s Furniture, Old Tymes Cafe, the vacant lot where the Hotel Holland stood for many years and the F.W. Myers office building, all on Lake Street.

Village Youth Commissioner Jan Letourneau said that while summer is busy with tourists, there needs to be more winter activities to bring visitors to the village, such as ice fishing tournaments or snowmobile races.

McManus noted that economic development is already taking place, as evidenced by new ownership or investment in businesses such as Gaines Marina and Lakeside Coffee.

While the committee can make recommendations, all final decisions will be made by the Village Board.

McManus said the success of any committee is a reflection of the breadth of people you can get to come on board. She asked those who sign up to commit to one year of service.

The Revitalization Committee is scheduled to meet Jan. 3, 2013, to review what has been done in the past and where funds have been expended.

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com

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HOW TO TAKE PART

People interested in joining the Rouses Point Revitalization Committee can contact Melissa McManus at 297-6753.