Public Information Meeting For The Seneca Falls DRI Building Improvement Fund Set

The Seneca Falls Development Corporation will host a DRI Building Improvement Fund informational meeting at 6pm on Thursday, January 13, 2022 at the Seneca Falls Community Center located at 35 Water Street in Seneca Falls.

The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the parameters and eligibility requirements to participate in the $600,000 Downtown Building Improvement Fund that was established through the $10 million DRI grant awarded to the Town of Seneca Falls.

Commercial property owners located within the Seneca Falls DRI boundary are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 to fund exterior and interior building renovations. Projects with a residential component may also be eligible for up to an additional $50,000. A 50% match is required for private projects and a 25% match is required for projects undertaken by non-profit entities.

“We’re encouraging all eligible businesses to apply,” shared SFDC Board Chair, Joell Murney-Karsten. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to see more than a half million dollars go towards the beautification of downtown and help boost economic development opportunities.”

Full details regarding the grant, its requirements, and how to apply will be provided at the informational meeting.

For those who cannot attend in person, the meeting will be available via Zoom videoconferencing. Remote participants will need to register in advance by visiting and completing the form. Upon registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

“The Building Improvement Fund is a small part of the overarching $10 million DRI award,” said Greg Zellers, SFDC Director, “but it’s specifically designed to have a significant visual impact throughout our downtown corridor and we anticipate wide participation.”

General questions regarding the Building Improvement Fund or the informational meeting can be directed to Greg Zellers, SFDC Director, by sending an email to

Bells to Ring Throughout Seneca Falls on 8/28/21 to Commemorate the State’s First Woman Governor

As cities, towns, and landmarks across New York State continue to mark the significance of Governor Kathy Hochul being sworn in as the first woman governor of New York, the streets throughout Seneca Falls will ring at noon on Saturday, August 28th.

To commemorate and honor Seneca Falls’ place in the journey for Women’s Rights and Women’s Suffrage, the Town of Seneca Falls and the Seneca Falls Development Corp have coordinated a simultaneous bell ringing event with the cooperation of area churches prepared to reverberate chimes throughout downtown.

“Seneca Falls is globally recognized as the birthplace of Women’s Rights,” shared Joell Murney-Karsten, SFDC Board Chair, “and hearing these chimes throughout the town at the same time is a wonderful way to embrace and share this historic first.”

The churches participating in the coordinated ringing of the bells are Trinity Episcopal Church, the Seneca Falls United Methodist Church, and the First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls. Aligned with Governor Hochul being sworn in as the 57th Governor of New York State, the bells will ring for 57 seconds starting at noon this coming Saturday.

“This commemoration isn’t at all political,” shared Seneca Falls Town Supervisor, Mike Ferrara. “We welcome Governor Hochul as the first woman Governor of our State and look forward to acknowledging our town’s contributions to the Women’s Rights movement with chimes that reverberate throughout downtown Seneca Falls.

Selected DRI Projects Announced in Seneca Falls by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul

After a significant pause due to pandemic restrictions, the SFDC is elated to announce that the Seneca Falls Downtown Revitalization Initiative is back in motion. Today, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul made an appearance at the National Women’s Hall of Fame to announce the DRI projects selected by the State for funding.

Included within this funding group is a $600,000 Building Improvement Fund, which can further help local businesses and building owners with interior and exterior upgrades, repairs, and enhancements.

Since writing the DRI proposal for consideration back in early 2019, the SFDC has enjoyed collaborating with a wide range of community members, government officials, business owners, and local organizations to make the DRI a reality.

Today’s announcement marks the start of a new journey for Seneca Falls with ongoing economic development leading the charge.

The SFDC would like to extend our gratitude to Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who has been a staunch supporter of Seneca Falls – and Governor Andrew Cuomo – for their vision to build better futures for the communities aided by the DRI.

To our DRI State representative, Chris Bauer, thank you for your ongoing guidance throughout the process. To Ed Flynn & his team from Labella & Associates, you’ve done an amazing job as our assigned DRI consultant and we appreciate you keeping everything on track.

To Vinny Esposito, Jamone Turner, and everyone at ESD…thank you for your continued stewardship.

To the members of the Local Planning Committee and all of the community members who helped shape the project slate and propose allocation of the DRI funds, we thank you for your time & dedication.

Thank you as well to the Seneca Falls Town Council, Supervisor Mike Ferrara & former Supervisor Greg Lazarro for their support of the Seneca Falls Development Corp and our mission to secure the DRI and other economic development opportunities for the Town of Seneca Falls.

Our town already carries a rich history, and with the help of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we now carry immense potential as well. We’re prepared to leverage this award for long-term economic development, and look forward to the collaboration to come as we collectively drive this initiative forward to ensure a prosperous future.

The specific projects announce by the State to be funded through the DRI include:

Establish the National Women’s Hall of Fame as a Destination – $1,000,000: Renovation of the iconic smokestack, installation of new permanent exhibits, and construction of a code-compliant elevator and external stairwell for access and expansion to the 2nd 3rd and 4th floors for additional museum space to enhance historic cultural destination.

Transform It’s A Wonderful Life Museum – $912,000: Museum expansion to include structural stabilization of the building, façade renovation to reflect its historic appearance, enhanced accessibility, and improved signage. Expansion is the first phase of expected multi-phased improvement.

Activate the State Street Station – $605,000: Renovate the former historic train station into a full-service Italian restaurant and banquet hall.

Establish a Building Improvement Fund – $600,000: A Building Improvement Fund will be established to provide grant funding for downtown building owners to support interior and exterior building improvements.

Reinvigorate the Gould Hotel – $405,000: Renovation of hotel’s first floor including lobby upgrades, conversion of the restaurant into a dual-purposed café & gastro-cocktail lounge and relocation of the bar.

Renovate the Historic Huntington Building – $400,000: Repurposing of the historic Huntington Building into a 50-unit affordable residential complex. Half of the units will be reserved as permanent supportive housing for veterans.

Launch Culinary Arts Studio and Apartments – $400,000: Renovation of two downtown buildings for a ground floor hands-on culinary arts studio and conversion of vacant upper floors into affordable housing units.

Create Residential Units at the Finger Lakes Health Institute – $400,000: Conversion of the vacant second floor classrooms of the former St. Patrick’s school into 10 affordable residential units in the mixed-use facility.

Renovate the Daniels Block – $253,200: Conversion of the vacant 3rd floor space in the Daniels Block into five new accessible residential loft units that will be serviced by a new three-stop elevator.

North Canalside Enhancements – $3,690,000: People’s Park improvements including new pathways and decks overlooking the canal; burying utility lines and providing better access to the Canal from downtown.

Improve the Heritage & Information Center of Seneca Falls – $533,082: Provide upgrades to the Heritage and Information Center including façade improvements, updating permanent interior exhibits, installation of a new elevator and renovations to boater spaces.

Enhance Community Recreation – $324,000: Installation of “street league” obstacles to the Seneca Falls Skate Park and an ADA-compliant kayak launch at the Community Recreation Center.

Enhance Ludovico Sculpture Trail – $177,718: Installation of a new gateway entry plaza, upgrading the trail surface to be accessible to all, and the addition of descriptive sculpture plaques.

We’ve been eagerly awaiting this day and remain honored to be selected as a DRI community. The SFDC is ready to continue our work and on behalf of the entire SFDC Board, we thank the entire community for their input, involvement, support, and patience through the process.


Greg Zellers
SFDC Director

Joell Murney-Karsten
SFDC Board Chair

SFDC Key Accomplishments in 2020

The SFDC is committed to the ongoing pursuit of economic development for the Town of Seneca Falls. Through an approach that includes branding and marketing initiatives, grant opportunities, commercial development, and the facilitation of public programs and activities, we strive to encourage economic growth, increase visibility, and boost both residential and commercial appeal.

What follows is a summary of key accomplishments over the 2020 calendar year, a year that proved challenging locally, regionally, and nationally due to pandemic guidelines and restrictions. Despite these hurdles, the SFDC was able to stay true to its mission and propel economic development opportunities throughout the year.

You can view/download our accomplishments in PDF format below:

SFDC2020Accomplishments (PDF Document)

2020 Centennial Fountain Dedication in Seneca Falls

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the installation of an illuminated fountain on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal in Seneca Falls as part of the state’s programming commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Placed just offshore from where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in 1848, the fountain is a joint initiative by the New York Power Authority, Canal Corporation and Seneca Falls Development Corporation offering New Yorkers a way to celebrate New York’s role in the suffrage story and our state’s history of bold women visionaries.

As part of the New York State Canal system, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal was integral in not only transporting goods from the Atlantic to Western New York, but in connecting people and fostering the spread of progressive ideals – from women’s rights to abolition.

“It was here in Seneca Falls that New Yorkers came together to demand equal rights for women under the Constitution, drafting their Declaration of Sentiments that solidified the focus of the suffrage movement,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new symbol serves as a tribute to all women who have persevered in the fight for equality; and a reminder to all of us that we still have work to do to fully achieve equality for all.”

On display daily from September 2nd through September 8th, the illuminated fountain will spray water 80 feet into the air over the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and each evening beginning at 8:26 pm, the fountain lights will cycle through the colors of purple, white, and gold to signify the centennial of the 19th Amendment.

“Today we commemorate New York women who challenged their place in society and paved the way for future generations to be active and more equal participants in our democracy,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the New York State Women’s Suffrage Commission said.

“The brave suffragists who stood up, spoke out and demanded change made it possible for women to vote and run for office. The actions of these women and countless others are why I am proud to stand here today, representing the great State of New York. As the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, we must uphold their legacy and continue our fight for equal rights and opportunities for all women.”

The fountain features a pump from the largest pump manufacturer in the world—ITT Gould Pumps, founded just months before the first Women’s Convention, and still headquartered in Seneca Falls.

Events and activities highlighting how the state’s canals shaped our nation’s history continue through New York’sReimagine the Canals initiative, a plan to transform the iconic waterway, encourage new visitors to explore recreational and cultural attractions, and improve resilience and economic stability for communities along the entire Canal system.

New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil Quiniones said, “Many of the 19th Century’s most influential social reform movements flourished along the banks of New York’s canals, especially in Central and Western New York. As the stewards of the historic Canal system, we celebrate its role in historical movements, like women’s suffrage, that make us proud to call New York home. We are committed to not only upholding the legacy of our early trailblazers for the rights of women but building on that movement and fostering a more inclusive and just state for everyone.”

Quiniones also highlighted the New York Power Authority’s Women in Power initiative, an employee-led group focused on gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace—fostering a supportive network for women through mentorship, education, and events, such as an upcoming forum on the progress of women in public service.

Director of the New York State Canal Corporation Brian U. Stratton said, “Today we celebrate the long-standing fight for equality and the beliefs that flourished and flowed along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal to the far reaches of the entire Canal system. At a time when communities across New York State and the nation are again seeking new ways to promote equality and spur change, we are proud to reflect on the storied history of this great waterway, and its role in the long fight for progress.”

Board Chair of the Seneca Falls Development Corporation Joell Murney-Karsten said, “The Seneca Falls community is proud of our rich, empowering history that draws visitors from across the world to come experience this storied place. Today’s dedication celebrates our role in American history, but also inspires us to look forward, to explore new ways to tell our story, and invite new residents and businesses to join us in this beautiful Town along the Canal.”

Seneca Falls Selected as “Canal Staycations” Hub for Free Kayak Rentals

The Seneca Falls Development Corp (SFDC) announced that Seneca Falls has been selected as a launching point for the new Canal Staycations activity program developed by the New York State Canal Corporation.

Designed to help promote canal and trail activity throughout New York State, the program will offer free kayak rentals and outdoor activities through Labor Day. From the Seneca Falls hub, located at the Seneca Falls Recreation Center, families, couples, and individuals will be able to reserve kayaks and paddleboards for use in the Seneca-Cayuga Canal and adjoining Van Cleef Lake free of charge.

“This is a great opportunity for people to get out and explore our community while still practicing social distancing,” shared Joell Murney-Karsten, SFDC Board Chair. “It’s so important to stay active, and this is a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors that lasts the entire summer.”

In addition to the beautiful sights that will surround paddlers along the way, the SFDC has created a self-guided water tour so kayakers and boaters can learn more about the history that lies beneath the surface. Prior to the intentional flooding in 1915 when New York State modernized and expanded the Barge Canal System, the “Flats” of Seneca Falls, now Van Cleef Lake, was home to more than 175 houses and businesses.

Each paddler will be provided with a tour map that marks the locations of key underwater sites, including the three original falls, the prominent residences, and the dozens of factories and foundries that helped contribute to the industrial ascent of Seneca Falls.


“Designed with the help of local historians, the map will guide people with interesting facts and photos throughout their journey,” said Greg Zellers, SFDC Director. “It was a lot of fun to create and I think it’s going to offer a whole new appreciation for the once-bustling industrial and residential center that now rests beneath the water.”

The launch site for the free kayak program will be at the Seneca Falls Recreation Center boat ramp, which is located in the rear parking lot of the building at 35 Water Street. From there, visitors can paddle along the harbor and into Van Cleef Lake.

“We’re excited to see Seneca Falls once again recognized as a destination for year-round activity and recreation,” said Seneca Falls Town Supervisor, Mike Ferrara, “and this is something visitors and residents alike should take the time to enjoy.”

The free self-guided excursions will be available July 17 – September 7, Fridays through Mondays, with available slot times of 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Reservations must be made in advance by calling Fuzzy Guppies at (315) 539-8848. Walk-in rentals are not available and COVID-19 guidelines are in place to maintain safety. Life jackets will be provided free of charge, but visitors are welcome to bring their own.

For more information on the Canal Staycations program and the additional hubs where free activities are available, visit

Seneca Falls DRI Website Launched

To help inform and update the community of Seneca Falls following its recent selection as the $10 million DRI Grant winner for the Finger Lakes region, the Seneca Falls Development Corp has announced the launch of its new DRI website.

By visiting, community members can get details about the DRI grant, updated information on DRI progress, answers to frequently asked questions, and subscribe to receive ongoing updates by email.

“The DRI process is going to move quickly in the coming months,” shared SFDC Board Chair, Joell Murney-Karsten, “and we want the community to be as informed as possible throughout each phase as things continue.”

Slated to start in December, community workshops and meetings will be held to gather input and ideas for prospective projects and to discuss funding opportunities. Residents and business owners alike are welcome to attend, and upcoming workshop dates will be posted on the website and published locally.

“This DRI award will have a significant and longstanding impact on the Town of Seneca Falls,” said Greg Zellers, SFDC Director, “and the more educated people are regarding the DRI and its parameters, the more inclusive it will become. Sometimes, coffee shop chats and social media can lead to misinformation, so we invite people to take advantage of this resource. When in doubt…reach out.”

Interested community members are invited to send questions and inquiries via the DRI website, or by sending an email to

Seneca Falls Announced as $10 Million DRI Winner

The Town of Seneca Falls is the latest recipient of $10 million under New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Seneca Falls Wednesday morning to make the announcement that Seneca Falls was selected as the Finger Lakes Region’s recipient of the DRI award.

State, county and local officials gathered with Seneca Falls business owners and residents to hear the news at the new site of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. When the announcement was made that Seneca Falls had won $10 million in DRI funding, the crowd erupted with cheers and applause.

“When we gave the Seneca Falls Development Corp (SFDC) the lead in pursuing the DRI, we did so with full confidence,” said Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro. “We knew our community would be fully represented throughout the application process and this is such an amazing day for the Town of Seneca Falls.”

In late 2017, the SFDC led a renewed charge to pursue the DRI award by holding a series of public workshops and focusing on community collaboration. Coupled with a push to realign the brand and economic development engine of Seneca Falls, the SFDC put several initiatives in motion to better foster regional, State, and commercial interest.

While Seneca Falls was a finalist for the DRI award in 2018, Penn Yann was selected as the region’s winner. Undeterred, the SFDC worked to strengthen their application by securing additional community input and focusing on the enhanced branding and messaging of Seneca Falls.

“One of our key priorities was to better showcase the rich heritage of Seneca Falls while also communicating its promise and potential,” shared Greg Zellers, SFDC Director. “This is why we chose to put forth a homegrown application that was rooted in community collaboration rather than hiring an outside firm. We felt this was the best way to capture and convey the heart and soul of Seneca Falls.”

The first monies allocated through the $10 million award will be $300,000 for initial planning. In the coming months, the SFDC will work alongside State officials to create community workshops and programs where businesses and residents can submit proposed projects for consideration.

The State will ultimately decide which downtown projects are funded, and the SFDC plans a series of community gatherings to explain and help facilitate the DRI process.

“Local business owners and residents provided insight, ideas, and a list of challenges they face,” said Joell Murney-Karsten, SFDC Board Chair, “and we want to continue this kind of community-wide collaboration. Not only for the success of commerce, but to also add quality of life benefits for residents.”

When selected as finalists for the 2019 DRI award, the SFDC was invited to present the merits of the Seneca Falls application before the DRI selection committee. Presenters for Seneca Falls included Doug Avery, Seneca Falls Town Council Member; Bob McKeveny, retired Seneca Falls Central School District Superintendent; Jessica Lorenzetti, teacher, Mynderse Academy; Joell-Murney Karsten, SFDC Board Chair; and Greg Zellers, SFDC Director.

The initial proposed projects for consideration included funding for downtown improvements, repurposing existing structures, adding tourism amenities, expanding cultural arts, small business assistance, extending walking trails, improving parking and walkability, canalside development, streetscape enhancements, and more.

While the DRI is intended to focus on downtown revitalization projects, the award has historically become a catalyst for economic development, commercial interest, and growth beyond the downtown corridor.

“I want to personally acknowledge the team of Greg Zellers and Joell Murney-Karsten who spent hundreds of hours on research and preparation for the DRI push,” added Supervisor Lazzaro. “Their commitment throughout the DRI process helped bring us to this remarkable day, and it’s an accomplishment our entire community shares in.”

Zellers further shared that the DRI award is the culmination of ongoing collaboration among the SFDC, the Town Council, local businesses, and residents.

“It’s been a long and challenging road these past few years as we worked to reposition Seneca Falls for economic revitalization, and this award doesn’t signal the end of that push…it signals the start of a new and exciting narrative for our town.”

To help educate and inform the community, the SFDC has published a DRI portal at where community members will be able to view the Seneca Falls DRI application and get updated DRI information and insight.

Questions regarding the DRI and the upcoming process can be forwarded to Greg Zellers, SFDC Director, via email at

SFDC Hosting DRI Community Workshop

The Seneca Falls Development Corporation (SFDC) is inviting Seneca Falls residents, business owners, and community leaders to a public Community Workshop to discuss and gather potential projects for inclusion in this year’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant application.

The open meeting will take place from 6:00pm-7:00pm on Wednesday, April 8th at the Seneca Falls Community Center, located at 35 Water Street in Seneca Falls.

In 2018, Seneca Falls was selected as a Finalist in the Finger Lakes Region for the $10 million award. Encouraged by the feedback received after last year’s process, the SFDC is looking to continue to involve the community as they prepare the 2019 DRI application.

New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative seeks to “transform communities ripe for development into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work, and raise a family.”

“With the DRI’s purpose echoing our Town’s interests,” says SFDC Director, Greg Zellers, “we plan on hosting a series of community workshops to discuss and outline potential DRI-related projects.”

State funding secured through the DRI can be used towards eligible capital projects that have the potential to spark economic vitality and growth in the downtown area. Guided by the framework of the recently-adopted Seneca Falls Economic Development Plan, core project goals may include:

  • Improve Seneca Falls’ downtown as a source of economic growth by expanding current businesses, attracting new businesses, and developing housing opportunities;
  • Retain and attract a diverse group of people of all ages, ethnicities, and incomes;
  • Enhance the quality of life for Seneca Falls residents;
  • Ensure that growth and investment projects align with the Economic Development Plan

“Together, we can work to make Seneca Falls a thriving downtown corridor once again,” added SFDC Board Chair, Joell Murney-Karsten, “and we invite the community to add their ideas, projects, and priorities so we can assemble a master list of projects to consider for inclusion.”

The SFDC has made the DRI Worksheet available online so that interested community members can either come to the meeting with a completed worksheet or send it separately to the SFDC prior to April 30th should they not be able to attend in person. Attendance is not required to submit project ideas for consideration.

Subsequent community workshops will discuss viable project ideas to help narrow the prospective list ahead of the application’s submission.

The DRI worksheet can be viewed, printed, or downloaded at:

To ensure suitable space, those interested in attending the workshop are encouraged to inquire or RSVP via email at or by telephone at (315) 338-4359.