WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Town of Webster has applied for a Restore NY grant, with the aim of using the funding to revitalize the hamlet of West Webster, starting with the intersection of Gravel Rd. and Ridge Rd.

If all goes the way the town wants it to — meaning the funding materializes, and there’s public support — public infrastructure work would be slated to start in 2025.

The town of Webster and its Economic Development Alliance said in an email that “(they) are intending on having the final Public Engagement opportunity in the month of March.” They encourage the public to visit this site to keep up on the project.

The alliance said that the four corners of those streets have been in decline for years. Three of the four main buildings are unoccupied, and at least two are in desperate need of repair.

Once, it was a bustling area on Gravel & Ridge. Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty says that this area predates even the Village of Webster, and was a bustling commerce area when the town was getting started in the 1840s.

Matt Chatfield with the Webster Economic Development Alliance — a group that works with the public and private sectors with development — the economy began to move on from hamlet.

A closeup view of the brick that needs work on the furniture stripper’s

“Cobblers, blacksmiths, taverns, a hotel, post office, fire department, it had its own unique sense of place for the longest time,” he said.

He says that over the past few years, they say the decline has worsened. Flaum Eye moved to a location on Hard Road in Webster, while the rapidly decaying furniture stripper remains as the poster child for the area.

“The previous owner didn’t pay their taxes, the county foreclosed on it, and nobody has ever bought it at auction, and there it sits,” Flaherty said, adding that it has been vacant for around 15 years.

The furniture stripper and its brick and roof repairs are just one challenge, filling the old Jade Palace across the street… But improving the roads and adding a crosswalk is another.

Chatfield says that the first step was a citizen committee formed in 2021, then working on a “vision” and “master plan.”

“A community wants a place where they can walk safely, they want sidewalks, they want streetlights, they want it to have a ‘village-esque’ feel,” Chatfield said.

In December, the town officially applied for a $1.8 million Restore NY grant, a source of funding from the state that would “financial assistance for the revitalization of commercial and residential properties. The program encourages community development and neighborhood growth through the elimination and redevelopment of blighted structures.”

One of the corner signs in disrepair. The streets also lack crosswalks

If awarded, Flaherty says that it would toward work across five properties in and around the four corners central to the West Webster hamlet.

“That would assist in getting the marketplace to respond and revitalize,” Flaherty said. “You start the momentum building going 1,500 yards in each direction going down the street.”

Chatfield adds the public so far is showing their desire to improve and use this area, and thinks businesses will come if the town helps them bridge the gap in rent and initial investment.

“We’re hoping to provide a little bit of incentive to get over the hump,” he said.