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January 23, 2014

Katz: Grants helping village's appeal

The award of a nearly $1.8 million “streetscape” grant to broaden the village’s visual appeal will benefit shopkeepers, tourists and local residents, Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz said.

“This new grant money will make Main Street a more dynamic place,” Katz said. “Improving Main Street is almost by definition a business-centric process.”

While the village government has come under criticism from some merchants after paid parking was initiated in the village last year, Katz said village officials are striving to strike “a proper balance” that benefits all who live and work in Cooperstown.

State officials said the grants were intended to help promote tourism and to create new economic development opportunities.

The money awarded to Cooperstown was one of the largest sums received by a small community.

“The idea we are anti-business and don’t care about Main Street is false and not based on our actions,” Katz said.

He noted the village has proposed outdoor dining regulations that will be the subject of a Jan. 27 public hearing and has enacted tax abatements for business improvements.

The mayor said the grant underscores Cooperstown’s role as an important economic engine for the region.

“In the big picture, the county sucks all the money that Cooperstown produces,” he said. “This is a way for us to get back what we feel we have earned and to put it back in the community in a way that will do a lot of good for everyone.”

The grant was part of a $67 million bonanza handed out statewide. The Federal Highway Administration made the funding available to the state Department of Transportation.

These funds are made available to the State through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and are administered by NYSDOT. The funds cover 80 percent of the cost of each project, with the remaining 20 percent coming from the project sponsor.

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