Tapped out

Not much money available to help.

That describes the current capabilities of the Dunkirk Local Development Corporation as the board met Wednesday and heard a restoration of its ability to provide small loans is still on hold.

Board member James Muscato had several questions about the status of prior loans that are still outstanding and asked if anything is being done to write them off.

“Not as of yet. We have reached out to both the attorney as well as our auditors to see exactly how they would like us to write them off. We have a call into them as we speak and hopefully they’ll call back in the next couple days and they can tell us exactly how they would like us to go about that,” Director of Development and Planning Steve Neratko told the board. “Dunkirk Metals has already gone through their bankruptcy proceedings. … We didn’t have any paperwork in. … So that’s a writeoff. Henlie and Selling Hive is a little bit better situation, but again, we don’t have the greatest of paperwork. … It may end up we’re going the route of the writeoff as well. We’ll definitely talk about that further.”

Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak said she wanted invoices to the companies to start in March and Neratko said he had no problem with the idea and added City Attorney Ron Szot also made that recommendation.

Muscato asked about use of money the Clarion Hotel recently paid back.

Neratko said the city could either pay the money back with non-federal funds or find the money elsewhere and be able to reutilize the $130,000 to $153,000 that may have to be repaid.

“It’s a little bit, just different, situation where we just give the money back. The project basically didn’t happen and we just move forward from there,” he explained. “I think that’s the route we’re going to have to take. … I think we’re going to have to give the money back because we just don’t have the $100,000 and something dollars to pay out of non federal funds.”

The placement of community gardens in the city and the operation of a farmers’ market were also discussed but final decisions were not made.

After the meeting Neratko said the focus is still economic development projects but being able to assist financially is an issue.

“I would say probably a year or two down the road, once we get some of the HUD issues behind us, we will look to utilize HUD funds for economic development in the future. For now we’re not able to do that,” he explained. “There are some other grants and opportunities out there, either through the Consolidated Funding Application process or working through Empire State Development or the START-UP NY program. … If there are businesses out there that are looking for funding we’d be happy to help them to assist them in writing grants to Empire State Development or any of those other funds.”

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said the city has changed the scope of the DLDC.

“I don’t want to say lessened the mission, but it’s a different mission. You heard this talk about farmers market, community gardens, smaller scale stuff in terms of development, but it still has an impact on the overall appearance of the city and could make it more attractive to potential developers,” he stated. “The money right now just isn’t there from the DLDC to loan to the business community, so we’ve changed our focus. … You see there isn’t grand projects to do. Also with the DLDC, we still have $200,000 in an outstanding note for the Bertges property, so that’s another thing we’ll have to work on.”

Dolce added talks with a developer for the former Bertges property are in the early stages.

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