WAVERLY — Waverly trustees on Tuesday heard from representatives from Tioga County and MRB Group regarding the recently completed village economic development plan on exploring ways to invigorate the community.
The 38-page document presented by MRB Director of Economic Development Services Michael N’Dolo broke down a number of strategies that village officials could take to improve the municipality for both local residents and visitors that focused on four main goals:
- Enhance the visual appeal and built-environment foundations of the downtown business corridor
- Increase the number of visitors to Waverly by marketing existing assets and developing attractions
- Strengthen the physical and thematic connections of events, recreation and culture in the village
- Increase downtown vibrancy with mixed-use commercial/residential development.
The plan outlined a number of tools that village officials could utilize to accomplish those goals — from using and enforcing village codes to developing signage for attractions on Interstate 86 to exploring alternatives for downtown utility poles and wires to create a visually cleaner downtown look.
But two of the main points of discussion during the presentation focused on creating connections between Waverly Glen Park and the downtown area as well as the development of an access point to the Chemung River.
N’Dolo explained that through interviews and surveys, one of the most popular ideas for the plan was a walking and bicycling path from the Glen to the downtown portion of the village. He noted that the path would help get recreational tourists to the downtown area and use local businesses.
“The waterfall at Waverly Glen is an under-marketed attraction that could draw visitors from the Southern Tier Expressway to a beautiful natural waterfall in a park that offers outdoor pavilions, tennis courts and an outdoor entertainment venue,” the plan states. “Waverly Glen Park is within a short walk or bicycle ride to downtown Waverly and nearby dense residential neighborhoods.”
Another key focal point of the economic development plan was the application and obtaining of various state grants by village officials, which would be used to fund the various ideas presented by the plan.
Specifically, the plan encouraged trustees to apply for funds granted by the newly-created state NY Forward program, which is designed for smaller communities like Waverly.
“Before, you’d have to apply for a DRI grant, which is extremely competitive and is a $10 million grant,” N’Dolo explained. “The problem is a village like Waverly is too small for $10 million.”
However, NY Forward grants range from $2.25 million to $4.5 million — a much more attainable sum, N’Dolo added. “Waverly would be perfect for a grant like that,” he said.
Mayor Patrick Ayres expressed optimism for the village’s potential involvement in applying for a NY Forward grant, noting that the economic plan and village’s 2020 comprehensive plan could be used as leverage to show the state that trustees are serious about making Waverly an ideal destination.
“We’ve successfully applied for CDBG monies, a Main Street grant, a Restore NY grant, built a new sewer plant, completed the Glen park project, among other things,” he said. “I think we’ve shown a very strong history of getting stuff done.”
MRB Group was contracted by the village, with assistance from the Tioga County Planning Department, to develop the plan after the municipality secured a grant from Empire State Development to fund it.
To give the three absent trustees a chance to review the document, no formal action to accept the plan was made at Tuesday’s meeting.