“In dreams begin responsibility,” the poet W.B. Yates once wrote. And such is the case for the Village of Ossining.
After years of dreaming about what it would do if it ever pocketed a $10 million state grant, the village finally captured the prize in late November.
Now, it has the responsibility of choosing the right targets for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative money, and ensuring that the economic gains are shared equitably among its diverse population.
The riverside village is home to some 27,000 residents, about half of whom are Latino, and has a historically vibrant African American community.
“Over the past several years, after decades of disinvestment, population growth, and environmental challenges, following the devastating impact of Urban Renewal, we finally saw Ossining coming back to life, with thriving businesses replacing empty storefronts,” Mayor Rika Levin wrote in a message to residents. “Then COVID struck and threatened our hard-won successes. This $10 million will help ensure a lasting and sustainable revitalization of our downtown and waterfront, creating a ripple effect of ample benefits for our surrounding business communities and all Ossining residents.”
Ossining’s winning application focused on the waterfront district, including a handful of projects that are either proposed or under way:
- Enhancements to the mixed-use development at 30 Water Street, including adding a multi-purpose community space; and supporting efforts to secure an anchor tenant and outfit the project’s retail space.
- Interior renovations to the long-dormant village-owned former bank building at 200 Main St., which Ossining wants to convert and sell to a private owner for use as a business incubator.
- Mixed-use redevelopment of the Market Square and Post Office parking lots.
- Expand educational and recreation programs at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center on Broadway, plus adding a teaching kitchen and media training center.
- As part of ongoing consolidation plans, repurposing two historic firehouses, the Monitor Hose and Ossining Steamer Company, to accommodate restaurants or a fire department museum.
- Funding toward the opening of the Sing Sing Prison Museum, which the village hopes will create job and become a tourist destination.
Other projects listed in the village’s application include expanding the village’s Hudson River pier to promote tourism; beautifying and redesigning the Station Plaza neighborhood; funding public art installations; upgrading wifi in public gathering places; redesigning the intersection at the convergence of Main Street, Spring Street, Brandreth Street and Central Avenue; facade improvements along Main and Spring streets; and “rebranding” the downtown with improved signage.
The process of developing a plan for investing the $10 million will include input from state and private sector experts, local planning committees made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and residents. Village officials in late December were awaiting a meeting with the state to determine when and how to get the public’s input.
“This is the fifth time Ossining has applied for this funding, making it to the finals four times before the fifth and winning application this year,” Levin stated. “This is a major win for our community, representative of years of hard work on behalf of long-standing local businesses, new entrepreneurs, and community-based organizations who recognize Ossining’s Downtown Waterfront District’s innate value and enormous potential.”