NY villages partner for economic development

Monday February 11, 2013

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- Local villages in New York are the latest to join an expanded cooperative venture now known as the Historic Hudson-Hoosic Rivers Partnership.

Formerly known as the Historic Washington on the Hudson Partnership -- focused along the Hudson River corridor closest to the Saratoga National Historical Park and Battlefield -- the organization’s reach was expanded by the state Legislature last year to include nearby communities and nonprofits along the Hoosic River. The organization’s aim is multifold and related to tourism development and revitalization of main streets, recreational development, protection of natural and cultural heritage, and protection of agriculture and open space, according to the Legislature’s bill.

There is no cost to become a member, and grant funding opportunities may result, prompting Hoosick Falls village board members to pass a resolution to join last Dec. 12. Cambridge village trustees passed a similar resolution at their regular board meeting this month, slated for Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Hoosick Falls Mayor Matthew Monahan said potential financial support for tourism and green space -- particularly for the Hoosic River Greenway that runs through the village -- was the main draw.

"The biggest part is power in numbers," he said in a recent interview, tying the partnership to the larger picture of increased tourism, economic development, and a revitalized village.

The "big picture" is to foster collaborative projects throughout the area. Locally, Monahan said the partnership could help organize, identify, and provide funding for new ventures. The organization’s expanded area streches to include the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site in Walloomsac (within the town of Hoosick).

At their meeting this month, Cambridge trustees similarly saw no reason not to jump on board.

"The grant amounts are sizable," said board member Sara Kelly.

Village Attorney Tony Jordan, also a state assemblyman whose office participates in partnership meetings, told Cambridge trustees they were in a "prime location" to capitalize on the organization’s added reach along the Hoosic.

In an email to Cambridge village officials, Deputy Clerk Tracy Schneider said she attended a recent partnership meeting and saw no downsides. Schneider said a positive could be funding for historic preservation and economic development.

In a separate email, Alane Chinian, a Cambridge resident and regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said the "increased coordination of little towns and villages in larger thinking about regional economic development and coordinating with one another to advance projects" had been a "fantastic model."

"(Cambridge) is very well (positioned) to serve as a link in that chain to connect major destinations of the partnership," she wrote, referring to a National Park Service venture to expand linkages between historic Revolutionary War sites.

In an included list of grant and other funding aided through the partnership was the $3.125 million rehabilitation of the Dix Bridge, which spans the Hudson near lock five of the Champlain Canal just north of Schuylerville; $463,000 for a "Sword Surrender Site" near the Saratoga Battlefield where American Gen. Horatio Gates accepted British Gen. John Burgoyne’s surrender (and sword) in 1777; and $548,000 for the Schuylerville Visitor Center.

The partnership, now comprising nearly two-dozen municipalities in Saratoga, Washington, and Rensselaer counties, was established through legislation in 2006, initiated by then-assemblymen Roy McDonald and Steven Englebright and then-Sen. Joe Bruno.

For more information visit www.hudsonhoosicpartnership.org.

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