Union Springs officials are making plans for projects that are receiving $563,950 in grants from the state, two projects for improving Frontenac Park and one to investigate improving the Cayuga Street area.

The funds were announced last month as part of the state's Regional Economic Development Council program.

One of the projects is for a boat launch at Frontenac Park on the shores of Cayuga Lake. This project was awarded $154,350 via the state Department of State's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program in order to  to increase public water access and recreational activities on Cayuga Lake. The grant carries a 50-percent match requirement, which means the village has to contribute $77,175 to the project.

Two existing boat launch bays will be improved and a third launch bay will be added. The project is in part a response to having had the Bassmaster Elite fishing competition in Union Springs in June 2016, an event that drew more than 10,000 visitors to the village.

“We did it to expand it,” Mayor Bud Shattuck said of the project, “because if we can get the (Bassmaster Elite) back here that's a big tourism draw for the community.”

Additionally, a boat-washing station will be installed to reduce the spread of invasive species.

“It's important to be able to monitor and clean off boats so they're not taking seaweed and stuff from one lake, that may be contaminated, and then pulling and taking their boat to another lake and putting it in there,” Shattuck said.

Water Protection

A second park-related project was awarded $259,600 through the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the village to purchase a property adjacent to Frontenac Park for expansion and to install a riparian buffer that will help remove pollutants from water that runs through the village into Cayuga Lake. The village has to contribute $129,800 to the project.

“We had already decided to buy that property over there, and we'd already approached a donor before we got the grant, so we were going to buy it whether or not we got the grant,” Shattuck said.

The privately owned property is worth $350,000, but, Shattuck said “the money given as a gift for the property was $200,000.”

This donor's contributions to the village for the land purchase covers the village's share of the matching grant, Shattuck said.

Once the remainder of the property purchase comes out of the grant, “you've only got $80,000 or so to do the rest of it,” Shattuck said, which includes tearing down a building and installing the buffer for water remediation.

The property will be purchased in 2018, but the total time line is hard to gauge as it is contingent on some other projects.

Union Springs is currently finishing up a prior Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, and the state Department of Transportation will also be installing a bigger culvert system due to village-wide flooding problems from the current system.

All the water from the floods comes down through fields and yards, and “it's nutrient loaded,” Shattuck said. “And where does it end up? In the lake. ... So, part of this grant, is not only to purchase the property, but to put remediation in.”

The culvert system will drain into this new property, and the buffer will be able to remove the nutrients before it goes into the lake, Shattuck said.

Once the DOT has more of a timeline in place for their project, a plan for the buffer implementation will be put in place as well.

Streetscape study

A third project was awarded $150,000 via the Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program to conduct an engineering study to develop designs and evaluate costs of infrastructure improvements along Cayuga Street, the village business district's main street between Center and Seminary Streets. This grant is a 25-percent matching grant, which means the village has to contribute $37,500 to the project.

“We have a main street that's old, and crowded, and half of it is falling apart,” Shattuck said.

Union Springs would like to tear up both sides to add water and sewer, bury all high voltage lines, put in new sidewalks and decorative poles instead of telephone polls with strung lines, Shattuck said.

“If you look at our main street it's like yin and yang, one side is really bustling and has businesses and such, and the other side, not so much,” Shattuck said.

If you want people to pull over and stop in the business district, it's “got to look good,” Shattuck said. “It's been hard for businesses to stay afloat,” he added.

Developing the main street, building more stories to the buildings with better views of the lake, and adding more houses and businesses are things Shattuck would like to see happen once the study and the future implementation project are completed.

This study may begin in 2018, but Shattuck was unsure as portions of this project also depend on the DOT culvert system, and could also be influenced by all the fire hydrants and main waterline valves being replaced throughout the village. Additionally, there is a sidewalk project Shattuck would also like to implement.

Because Union Springs is in the midst of multiple projects at once, Shattuck said, there is still a lot of careful planning to be done before everything is implemented.

“We have to prioritize both time-wise and dollar-wise,” Shattuck said, “I don't want to be doing things just because they seem like good things, on the backs of the taxpayers, if I have other things that have to be done.”

Staff Writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at 315-282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net or on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.

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Towns Reporter