Williamsville’s vision for a secondary business district around the historic water mill on Spring Street is gaining momentum.
Just last week, Sweet Jenny’s – the popular village ice cream and chocolate shop – set up in the vacant water mill, bringing new life to the street for the holiday season.
On Thursday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer brought more good news with his announcement of $800,000 in federal funds to help turn that block into the heart of the village.
“This $800,000 investment will help accomplish so many goals, from public safety to boosting local shopping and businesses to enhancing the natural beauty of Glen Park,” Schumer said in a prepared statement. “This project is a game-changer for Williamsville.”
The project is a $3.3 million initiative to re-create Spring Street – a back-alley byway off Main Street – into more of a village square centered around the 19th-century mill.
Plans show a rebuilt Spring Street with wide sidewalks and a brand-new streetscape. Williamsville officials envision a row of new storefronts on what are now parking lots.
It’s part of the larger “Picture Main Street” initiative aimed at calming traffic and making Main more pedestrian- and business-friendly.
Schumer was in Williamsville back in July lending his support for the concept and came through with some federal money on Thursday.
The $800,000 grant for Williamsville comes from a provision in the federal Clean Water Act authorizing the Environmental Facilities Corp. to fund “green” infrastructure projects, Schumer said.
Specifically, he noted, the money will be used to improve the streetscape on Spring Street, which includes installing “rain gardens” to capture storm-water runoff and prevent further erosion of the bedrock in Glen Park along Ellicott Creek.
Schumer said he will work with village officials to secure the remaining funds needed.
“Not only is the street coming back to life,” said Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa, “it is becoming the greenest and most environmentally sound street in our village.”