Homer’s DRI committee sets schedule, next steps

Village of Homer. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

The Local Planning Committee (LPC) for the village of Homer’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) plan met Thursday to set the tone on what the next few months of community outreach and project planning will look like.

The committee, consisting of local dignitaries, economic development stakeholders in the county, and historical preservation advocates, officially kicked off the village’s quest to submit a plan to state officials that will see Homer’s downtown transformed. 

To do so, the village will have $9.7 million at their disposal, attained through the state’s DRI program — $300,000 of those will go toward paying consultants who will shepherd the LPC’s eventual submission of a list of projects for state approval. The village was awarded a DRI winner in February. 

Village officials plan to use a 270-acre section of the locality as its DRI investment area, which includes the entirety of both the Old Homer National Register Historic District and the zoned Central Business District, including the Village Green. The area comprises the residential, commercial, civic, and religious structures then compasses a mix of residential, commercial, civic and religious structures that make up the core of the village.

Here is a list of the LPC’s members:

(Photo provided by the Village of Homer).

The LPC is set to meet the first Thursday of every month, with several public outreach sessions scattered throughout the next few months. The input will influence objectives such as structuring a cogent DRI vision to present to state officials, brainstorming of project ideas, participation in public outreach, reviewing downtown assessment documents, and ultimately submitting a list of projects for submission to the state. 

Emma Phillips, a project manager at C&S Companies who will lead the DRI plan, said Thursday the LPC will decide on a time to meet before their July meeting, as group meetings will be around two hours long and will also be followed by a public information session.

“We, as a team, decide on a slate of projects, but everyone on the LPC has to agree on that slate,” Phillips said, explaining the process. “The LPC does not decide which projects are awarded funding. New York state decides who is worth the funding. We all agree on the funding amount and the consultants do some background digging to make sure that the amount that we’re asking for is appropriate for the project.”

The end result of public input and information gathering by the community and the LPC will be a strategic investment plan.

“That puts the community participation together with the downtown profile assessment, and the project slate to really create a nice story for New York state about where we are and what we want,” Phillips said. “New York state will take a few months to look at the projects. We never know the exact timeline of how long it will take, but it will happen in 2024.”

Below are the projects listed in the village’s initial DRI submission, separated based on their public or private applications. These are not final, as the LPC will hear from community members and consultants regarding the financial feasibility, as well as the economic development potential. A final list will be curated to send to the state in the coming months.

(Photo provided by the Village of Homer).

(Photo provided by the Village of Homer).

“Just because they’re on these lists, doesn't mean they are going to be eventually submitted to the state,” Phillips said.

Companies behind private projects, Phillips said, will have to pay for 60% of the project’s cost if selected by the state. Public projects and those proposed by certified nonprofit organizations will be fully funded through the DRI.

“Projects will be classified as large projects with a minimum cost of $200,00,” Phillips added. “And then we will have a small project fund if the project is under $200,000.”

The next LPC meeting will be in early July.