Making their case

As a lakefront community, the Town of Dunkirk has many natural assets. At the town board’s recent workshop, the board heard a presentation on how becoming part of the proposed Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan will benefit the town.

Chautauqua County Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Development Mark Geise, along with Jay Warren and Gina Paradis from the Northern Chautauqua County Local Development Committee, explained what the process entails and the benefits of an LWRP.

Geise explained the county planning department did an LWRP for the Chautauqua Lake area.

He said this LWRP would include Lake Erie communities from Ripley to Hanover.

“What is our greatest asset in Chautauqua County?” he asked. “Although we have many, water is definitely one of them.”

Warren explained when he first heard of an LWRP he thought it only applied to harbors. He explained a LWRP makes municipalities more competitive for grants.

“It is not just about harbors; there were many other kinds of projects funded last year … Money for grants gets tight and they are not just giving it out randomly. There needs to be a well thought out regional project. With a LWRP you are more likely to get funding than not having a LWRP,” he said. “Industry is closing, we need to find another way to bring in outside money.”

Paradis explained how utilizing water resources can benefit municipalities in many ways.

“Securing this kind of funding can help you leverage your natural resources to drive private investment,” she said.

Warren went on to explain a similar LWRP was compiled in the 1990s and was submitted to the Department of State. However, after a letter from the DOS came back with suggestions, the project died, either because of lack of funds or interest.

Geise said they hope to update the old LWRP with the support of the communities on the lake and near major tributaries.

He said now is the time because the county has recently compiled the comprehensive plan, Chautauqua 20-20, and the greenway plan. He explained the LWRP is one more layer of planning that lets grant agencies and developers know what the community wants.

Geise said the county would like to take a background role in the LWRP process and have the municipalities lead the way cooperatively.

Warren explained the town would be asked to pass a resolution of support in April or May and agree to dedicate $2,000 from the 2014 budget as well as provide one or two representatives for the LWRP steering committee.

He said they hope to prepare the grant application for the LWRP by June and hear if it is awarded by December. In 2014, a consultant would be chosen and Warren estimated a year’s time before the final product would be ready for review. In mid-2015 the municipalities would be ready to prepare grant applications to the DOS for some of the projects outlined in the LWRP.

Paradis explained LWRP is not just a plan, it is a process. She also pointed out a regional approach benefits municipalities in cost savings as well as sharing a common vision and not competing against each other for the same grants.

Town Supervisor Richard Purol asked, if some municipalities do not go along will the price increase? Geise said they hope to keep the $2,000 figure solid, keeping in mind fewer municipalities means less work.

He also asked if 100 percent participation is required. Geise said they hope not to have big gaps between those wishing to join in but 100 percent is not necessary.

Warren said they will also be meeting with other municipalities in the near future.

The next town board meeting will be held March 19 at 7 p.m.