Slow-moving development

The recent announcement that area projects are still in the running for state funding was good news for the city of Dunkirk. The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council is sending the city’s Seawall and Lake Front Redevelopment project, which targets waterfront redevelopment and tourism, to Round Three of the state’s Consolidated Funding Application process.

In addition to the city project, Chautauqua Regional Water was also picked to move to the CFA finals. The project would, if completed, consolidate municipal water supplies in the northern part of Chautauqua County with the goals of promoting economic development and job retention and creation by enhancing the inadequate water systems in the region at an affordable cost.

Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theatre multi-phase restoration project was also selected for the CFA finals.

Dunkirk’s goal is to reconstruct the Lakefront Boulevard seawall and redevelop the boulevard into a tourist destination. Making the cut in the progress report and keeping the chance of financial help for the seawall rebuild was vital.

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said he was “tremendously excited” about the WNYREDC announcement.

“Seawall, what a great project and we turned in a very solid application that ranked well,” he added. “We’re thrilled to hear that we’ll be getting some money for that project that we’re going to tie into Bike Path Phase 3.”

Dolce said the city doesn’t know the amount of funding it will get but “it’s looking good.”

“I don’t have an amount but the way we ranked it’s looking like we’ll get a portion of a pot of money, so we’re thrilled,” the mayor added. “Hats off to (Development Director Steve Neratko and Community Development Block Grant Coordinator Nicole Waite), great job.”

Dolce was asked about other development on the harborfront and elsewhere that is in the works.

“We continue to work with the college on the SUNY 20/20 grant. There’s another round coming out there for the research center, research lab and museum. Mr. (Jeff) Gambino is ready to proceed with his project. Those are the two most immediate ones and we continue to work,” he replied, adding there has been a change of ownership of the Central Avenue site of the former Masonic Temple, which was destroyed by fire in February 2010. “We know a new LLC has bought Mr. Lesser’s property across the street from us, so we’ll be reaching out to them to see if they have any plans for their section of the lot. We’ve actually had discussions with a developer for the Bertges site and now that that’s practically cleaned and commercially ready we’ll ramp up our efforts there to market that site.”

A special combined meeting of the Common Council and Dunkirk Local Development Corporation is reportedly in the works, possibly next week, to discuss the Bertges site. A Planning Board meeting to review the marina site plan and SEQR await a quorum availability.

Another meeting, being held in Albany some time in the near future, may play a large role in the city’s immediate future. According to Dolce, the state Public Service Commission’s October meeting may include a decision on the proposed NRG repowering project.

On Sept. 19, the PSC reported that its review of the Cayuga repowering proposal and NYSEG’s report “indicated that a revised repowering solution could be consistent with the best interests of the public and ratepayers.” Both repowering cases were part of the same PSC case, 12-E-0577.

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