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Notes from the North Country

Communities receive $500K in 'smart growth grants'

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has awarded $500,000 in "smart growth grants" to communities in the Adirondack Park.

The grants from the Environmental Protection Fund are to assist communities with developing plans that link sustainable economic development, environmental protection and community livability, DEC officials said.

"Providing communities with financial assistance to promote sound economic development while protecting the state's valuable natural resources will help foster a good quality of life for park residents," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement.

The competitively awarded grants include five projects that address local issues, two that are regional and two that are park-wide:

• Hamilton County was awarded $123,000 for the "Adirondack Park Economic Development Strategy," using smart growth principles in a parkwide action plan to improve economic conditions.
Partners in the project include Adirondack Community Housing Trust, Adirondack Landowners Association, North Country Chamber of Commerce, Paul Smith's College, the Center for Economic Growth, Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Commission and The Adirondack Council.

• Essex County is getting $88,000 for technical assistance to communities in the use of the "Hamlets 3" state guidebook for hamlet expansion.

• The town of Bolton is receiving $69,000 for developing a detailed master plan of hiking, biking and snowmobiling opportunities on the west side of Lake George.

• Lake Luzerne is receiving $40,000 to support growth of the non-profit Adirondack Folk School, located in a formerly vacant building on the Hudson River in downtown Lake Luzerne. It is a regional school of traditional Adirondack arts, crafts and culture.

• Newcomb will receive $40,000 toward plans to develop a main street on Route 28. The plans will include site-specific land use recommendations, a pedestrian-oriented, multi-modal "complete street" plan and a marketing strategy to capitalize on the town's natural and cultural resources.

• Elizabethtown is getting $37,000 toward developing a smart growth-oriented comprehensive plan, including making plans for new pedestrian linkages.

Elected officials, local leaders and environmental groups praised the grants in statements issued through DEC.

"The Smart Growth Grants will allow our Adirondack communities to plan for their future economic viability," said Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willboro. "Good, sound planning brings both tourists and businesses to our area."

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