Public engagement meeting highlights Massena DRI proposals

·6 min read

May 28—MASSENA — The Massena community has an opportunity to weigh in on 11 proposed projects included in the village's Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

A survey at is looking for input on how much support each project has as the process moves forward.

"Tonight you'll see the preliminary list of projects that have been chosen by the Local Planning Committee. This is not the final list, but is the list that has made the cut so far. The final list won't be voted on until later," Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said during Thursday night's public engagement session.

Jaclyn S. Hakes, Sarah Starke Hess and Nora Culhane Friedel from MJ Engineering and Land Surveying P.C., the consultant team, outlined the projects that are currently under consideration. They had been pared down from 18 submissions for DRI funding. One project still needs more information, and 14 projects were not considered for funding.

"Next month, as the mayor indicated, the Local Planning Committee will be refining the projects list. Any project that's on this preliminary list does not mean that project will be automatically funded," Ms. Hakes said.

Once the list is refined, the committee will be voting on the projects that will move forward to the state level for final approval of the DRI Strategic Investment Plan.

"The state will then review that slate of projects to determine which projects will be funded," she said. "Through all of this, community engagement is a key component."

One of the proposed projects is work at Danforth Place, sponsored by the village. The work would include recreational improvements such as a splash pad, accessible playground stations, bathrooms, picnic areas and pavilions, along with the installation of sidewalks, additional parking and walking paths. The cost is estimated at $1,624,952, and the DRI request is for $1,624,952.

A second phase not included as part of the DRI request is a future basketball and pickleball court.

Downtown enhancements sponsored by the village are also a proposed project. They would be located throughout the DRI study area and would include streetscape enhancements such as improved sidewalks, street lighting, street trees and benches to create a unified streetscape aesthetic.

Work would be done on Main Street, Glenn Street, downtown intersections, the bridge gateway, pedestrian trail and alley, Water Street, East Orvis Street, Andrews Street and Phillips Street.

Project costs continue to be evaluated, but currently stand at $6,511,894, which is also the DRI request.

The Local Planning Committee is also proposing a riverwalk sponsored by the village along the Grasse River. That project would include a scenic riverwalk along portions of the river and formalization of a kayak launch behind the fire department. Future coordination between the village and property owners would be required for any improvements. The cost is $1,938,816, which is also the DRI request.

Bruce Beckstead is the sponsor for revitalization of 48 Main St. The project proposes to restore the front side and rear facade of the anchor downtown building on Main Street, as well as one of the unique storefronts. The total project cost is $250,000 with a total DRI request of $100,000.

One of the proposals that needs more information is On the Rocks, located at 20 Water St. along the Grasse River and sponsored by Jeffrey and Gerald Johnson. They propose renovating and refurbishing an existing restaurant and apartments on the waterfront property. It will also include shoreline improvements as well as stabilization and drainage to the river bank. The total project cost is $790,525 and the DRI request is for $340,000.

Creative rehabilitation of the former Massena School of Business, 24 Main St., is also proposed by the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. They propose to preserve the existing historic facade while transforming the area into a courtyard transitional space that connects Main Street and downtown. Project costs continue to be evaluated, but currently stand at $1,140,000, which is also the DRI request.

Warehouse renovation by sponsors Mary Hinds Noordsy and Joe Mittiga is also on the list. The project includes buildings at 90 Main St., 94 1/2 Main St. and 9 W. Orvis St. They propose interior and exterior renovations of multiple buildings for mixed-use spaces, including but not limited to a boutique hotel, multi-use retail and golf simulator. The cost is $2,450,500, and the DRI request is for $1,225,250.

Michael Kassian is the sponsor for renovation of 94-96 Main St. The project would be a complete renovation of an old grocery store building and adjoining vacant parking lot with space for approximately 20 vehicles. The building could be used for professional or retail space. The project cost is $319,050 and the total DRI request is for $159,525.

The Schine Theater, 65 Main St., is also on the list with R. Shawn Gray from the Massena Arts and Theater Association as sponsor. They hope to stabilize the historic building and address some of the critical repairs that have come up over the years to bring the space back to full use. The total project cost is $2,010,000 and they're requesting $2,000,000 in DRI funding.

William and Susan Fiacco from GoCo Massena LLC have two projects on the proposal list. One is the renovation of the former JJ Newberry building. It would include full modernization and repair of the historic building, including apartment formalization, flexible retail space, office space and adding a rooftop deck and replacing the existing facade. The total project cost is $3,105,181 and the DRI request is for $1,552,591.

The Fiaccos also plan to turn 37 Water St. into The Creamery. They plan to renovate the abandoned building for use as a retail creamery storefront and add a second floor for apartments. Light manufacturing and regional commercial sales of ice cream, yogurt and cheeses would also be included. The total project cost is $1,140,000, and the DRI request is for $570,000.

The final proposal is a CORE of the Community Fund sponsored by the village. The revolving grant and loan fund would focus on enhancing the downtown core through small grant awards, with a 25% applicant match. Funding could be used for revitalization efforts such as facade improvements for commercial buildings. The total fund would be $600,000, which is also the DRI request.

Those projects are listed in the questionnaire, which is online until June 2. There are also plans for an online project gallery, which would be available from June 15 to 20.

In addition, the Local Planning Committee will hold meetings at 3 p.m. June 14 and 3 p.m. June 21. The committee will potentially vote on the slate of recommended DRI projects during the June 21 meeting.

More information is available at