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Photo provided by the Office of the Governor

Shown with Gov. Kathy Hochul (second from left) is (from left) Allison Green, Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler, Isabella Raptis, Mike Raptis and MK Kellogg.


WELLSVILLE — Wellsville is one of two Western New York villages to receive millions in aid from the NY Forward program.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday that Wellsille and Lancaster would each receive $4.5 million in the first round of the $100 million program.

“New York’s downtowns are the lifeblood of our state, and my administration is committed to ensuring communities in every region have the resources they need to thrive,” Hochul said in a press release. “Through NY Forward, we’re building on the continued success of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative to provide crucial support to New York’s smaller and rural communities.”

Noting the village’s historic downtown with its architecturally and historically significant buildings, as well as proximity to Alfred State College (a branch campus is in Wellsville) and Alfred University, village officials hope to capitalize on the village’s small-town historic character and develop a community that is a thriving, walkable, equitable place. Building off recent commercial and industrial growth, Wellsville seeks to foster new projects including preserving and adaptively reusing historic buildings, creating new and diverse housing choices, improving its business park, and investing in parks, trails and placemaking.

Wellsville officials were called Monday to attend a press conference in Dunkirk, where Hochul announced the funding.

For Mayor Randy Shayler, who was in attendance, “It is a big deal. To be honest. … This is a lot more than I thought we would get. This grant shows that the state has confidence in what we are doing here.”

Work on the village’s DRI has been ongoing for the last couple of years, under the direction of businessman Mike Raptis with help from MK Kellogg and Alison Green, as well as village clerk Melissa Mullen.

Shayler thanked them for their assistance and diligence. He said a number of projects may be completed with the grant funding and said that the funding should attract outside investors.

“I would hope that we will be able to complete upwards of 10 projects which should help us leverage private money for the projects,” he said.

Some of the projects listed in the application are rehabilitating the Rockwells building and the Erie Depot, rehabilitating the municipal building, repairing the Grand Theatre and rehabilitating the Rauber’s, doing needed repairs on the buildings at 94 N. Main St. and 174 N Main, as well as preserving the Sinclair Barrel House.

“We have been in a dark time in recent years with the loss of a major retail store and manufacturing business,” the mayor said. “Now we are in an upswing with Runnings (a retail chain) coming in and (Kinley Advanced Technical Services) at the old Dresser-Rand facility.

“Things are looking up for Wellsville and our future is looking brighter,” Shayler said.

Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, said the investment in Wellsville’s downtown should provide a boost to the economy of the region and improve the quality of life for the residents.

“I am pleased to see that the state is committed to the revitalization of Wellsville and other small communities in Western New York,” he said.

The award to Wellsville comes on the back of a $500,000 state award in December to help with the $2.4 million renovation of the former railroad depot on Pearl Street.

The program is patterned off the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, like that received by Olean in 2017 and Hornell in 2019. The program is in its sixth cycle, with the governor’s office also announcing Monday that Dunkirk would receive the Western New York award in the latest round.

State officials reported that the NY Forward program will use the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the DRI, hoping to make a more equitable downtown recovery program for smaller and rural communities like Wellsville and Lancaster.

As part of NY Forward Round One, officials reported that two to three awards will be granted to smaller communities in each of the state’s 10 economic development regions to support the development and implementation of a downtown revitalization plan.

Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a strategic plan to revitalize its downtown through a slate of projects, with assistance available from the New York Department of State. Projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance the feeling of small-town authenticity.