Covid relief money could be used to improve Lewis County eyesores

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Come summer, some of Lewis County’s most run-down properties could start looking a lot different. It’s thanks to some COVID relief money and a program by Lewis County Economic Development.

Taking a trip to Lowville, you’ll see boarded windows, run-down buildings, and some vacant properties. Thanks to leftover COVID-relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, that may change

“We didn’t need those funds for COVID so we’re going to revitalize those properties, keep them on the tax roll, and improve the community,” said county Legislator Ian Gilbert.

It’s called the vacant property revitalization program and it’s being run by local economic officials. Drawing from a pool of $950,000, qualifying landowners will be reimbursed with half of the funds spent improving vacant and dilapidated property up to $100,000.

“Just the overall feel of the community is going to be better if the second and third story of a building have good windows and tenants in them,” said Cheyenne Steria, director of finance and incentives at Naturally Lewis.

Once properties are restored, we’re told they could lead to a domino effect in the best way possible.

“Create economic development. Create a domino effect where properties are being utilized. Tax values go up, employment goes up,” said Steria.

By taking care of run-down properties now, the county won’t have to foot the bill for damages brought about by their dilapidated state.

“By spending a little bit of money now which came from federal funds, we can offset huge costs for ourselves down the road,” said Gilbert.

Although an official list of qualifying properties has yet to be released, we’re told work may not be far off from commencing.

“I think you could probably see hammers hitting nails, I don’t know, June, July maybe,” said Steria.

We could see a list of properties that will get money as early as this Friday after a committee of community members determines which of the applicants are most in need.