Lyons Falls residents asked to give input on redevelopment options

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LYONS FALLS — Village residents on Thursday were asked to give input on what they would like to gain from an ongoing, grant-funded redevelopment program.

“The most significant part of the meeting is getting your feedback,” Kimberly Baptiste from Rochester engineering firm Bergmann & Associates said during a “Re-Imagining Lyons Falls” session at the Forest Presbyterian Church.

The village in late 2013 was awarded state Brownfield Opportunity Areas funding to study several sites for possible contamination and possibilities for redevelopment. Ms. Baptiste said the initial study was completed in 2014 and her agency became involved with the project last year and hopes to compile recommendations and adopt an implementation plan by sometime next year.

Goals of the program are to create new job opportunities, attract new businesses and enhance the quality of life for current and future residents, she said.

The village’s average household income of $51,563 is a little higher than the Lewis County average, and the population is projected to grow slightly over the next five years, Ms. Baptiste said.

Consultants over the past few months have developed a “Lyons Falls Connects” logo and hope to use it for marketing the village as a great place to live, locate a business or just visit.

“We’re really trying to build that brand,” Ms. Baptiste said.

Bergmann employees, with assistance by officials from the village, county, Development Authority of the North Country and other agencies, are also working to identify redevelopment opportunities throughout the village, with a particular focus on manufacturing, tourism, health services and clean energy, she said.

Through the brownfield grant program, a portion of the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill site — in the process of being redeveloped by the Lewis County Development Corp. — has been tested for contaminants and no significant levels were found, but more testing is to be done through fall, Ms. Baptiste said.

Once demolition of old buildings at the site is completed, the 9.4-acre parcel could be reused in several ways, including as light industrial, a mixture of small industry with recreational features or a tourism destination, somewhat like the Tailwater Lodge in Pulaski, she said.

Ms. Baptiste showed conceptual drawings of what the mill site and other sites in the village could look like, including the possible conversion of an old railroad depot to some type of eatery or bicycle rental business on a trail system along the railroad tracks. She also displayed ideas for streetscape improvements, including improved intersection markings featuring some green space, that would make the village more appealing and help ensure it is “safe and welcoming for all modes of transportation.”

Following the formal presentation, the roughly 25 attendees were asked to visit several stations where they could critique ideas developed by Bergmann staff and give input on priorities for village redevelopment.

At one station, residents were each given five “Lyons Falls bucks” and asked to put them in any of eight jars with the following titles: more businesses, more parks, job attraction, water access, streetscapes, infrastructure (water, sewer, broadband), Pulp & Paper site redevelopment and trails. The intent was to give consultants an idea of the items on which people would most like to see money spent.

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