LWRP presented to Sheridan board

By NICOLE GUGINO

OBSERVER Assistant News Editor

SHERIDAN – Jay Warren, chair of the Northern Chautauqua County Local Development Committee, made a stop at the Sheridan Town Board recently to promote a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for communities along Lake Erie.

Warren was joined by Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corp. Executive Director Kathy Tampio. He explained although the LWRP idea was originally brought up in CBRDC meetings, it has been decided it will not be a Chadwick Bay project, although the agency will support the plan.

He explained several years ago a regional LWRP was almost approved but funds ran out and the plan has sat on a shelf ever since. Now Warren, with support from the County Planning Department, the Lake Erie Management Corp. and the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, is trying to drum up interest in the communities bordering the lake to join the LWRP.

He said last year $15 million was awarded to 66 projects in New York state, most of which were LWRP-related and received 50 percent funding.

LWRP projects can range from dredging and harbor restoration to development of the waterfront, water and air quality improvements, ecosystem projects, zoning, energy projects and utilizing historical and cultural resources.

He explained this is an opportunity for communities to leverage money together, where if a municipality created an LWRP alone it could cost $120,000.

For the regional LWRP the county has promised $10,000 and in kind services. The Community Foundation will put in $5,000 and the Lake Erie Management Corp. will put in $10,000.

Tampio said the CBRDC will offer administrative and organizational help with grants and setting up meetings.

Warren said each municipality will be asked to contribute $2,000 in the 2014 budget year, but for now all they need is commitment for the money and or a representative on the committee by May.

The money the group is collecting would go toward a grant to hire a consultant to compile LWRP eligible projects in the participating areas and once that is finished the projects would be submitted to the Regional Economic Council for possible grant funding.

Warren mentioned a study done in Michigan of a rust belt community which turned the economy around by utilizing its natural resources. He said this doesn’t mean that will happen in Chautauqua County, but it is “significant” and is “something to think about.”

Councilwoman Amy Farnham asked if other municipalities have been receptive. Warren said municipalities have been receptive but are watching what others will do. However, there is still time to decide.

Farnham also asked if other communities do not sign on if the cost will go up. Warren said they are going to try to keep the cost at $2,000, even if some municipalities opt out.

“As municipal leaders the last thing you want to do is spend money on something that is going to sit on a shelf again, but this is an opportunity. Most projects that are funded now have an LWRP. We know what they are looking for, grants are more competitive than ever and we need an edge to get that funding,” Tampio explained.

The town board will hold a workshop and special meeting April 8 at 7 p.m. The regular meeting will be held April 18 at 7:30 p.m.