Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $3.7 million in Smart Growth Grants is available for communities and not-for-profit organizations in the Adirondack and Catskill parks. DEC, in partnership with the Department of State and the Adirondack Park Agency, is soliciting applications for projects that will link environmental protection, economic development, and community livability in the Forest Preserve. The focus for this round of Smart Growth Grants is affordable housing, a key component for addressing population and economic stability in these rural areas.
DEC’s Community Smart Growth Grants Program is modeled after the national “smart growth” movement, which promotes growth that harmonizes economic development with protection of the natural and built environment. This announcement marks the seventh round of Smart Growth grants since the program’s inception. Nearly $6.5 million has been awarded to communities – $1.9 million in the Catskill Park, and $4.5 million in the Adirondack Park. For more information, visit DEC’s website.
Funding for these grants is provided by the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and includes $2.7 million for Adirondack Park projects and $1 million for projects in the Catskill Park. The goal of this grant program is to support projects that build on comprehensive planning and economic development activities. In the 2023-24 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul maintained EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF also provides funding for critical environmental programs such as farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.
Eligible projects should support larger community development projects, such as revitalization efforts, capital improvements, and organizational development or capacity building, and may include but are not limited to:
- Providing bike-friendly routes and amenities;
- Improving or promoting local/regional museums and theaters;
- Main Street façade improvement;
- Refurbishing historic properties;
- Providing community-based tourism programs and activities;
- Creating new recreational opportunities;
- Multi-use trail development;
- Wayfinding and informational signage and kiosks;
- Enhancing parks and public spaces;
- Zoning updates;
- Visitor center improvements;
- Beautifying tourism sites; and
- Providing sidewalks in hamlets and villages.
The grant program also welcomes applications for development of comprehensive and/or local land use plans, as well as updates to existing plans.
Photo at top courtesy of the NYS DEC.