Safer passage may be result of ‘Complete Streets’ law

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists may find safer passage in the city of Dunkirk as a result of a local law approved Tuesday by Common Council.

Local Law 2-2014 was the subject of Resolution 36-2014, which was tabled at council’s last meeting for a public hearing which was held before Tuesday’s meeting, will bring the city into compliance with state and federal laws and allow the city to get funding from both. According to the resolution, the intent of the law is “to provide a framework to encourage healthy, active living, reduce traffic congestion and fossil fuel use, and improve the safety and quality of life of residents of the city of Dunkirk by providing safe, convenient, and comfortable routes for walking, bicycling, and public transportation through a Complete Streets Policy.”

Speakers at the public hearing, residents and non-residents alike, all expressed support for the Complete Streets resolution.

Before council approved the local law, which provides an amendment that will add the Complete Streets Policy section to the City Code, members weighed in on the legislation.

Councilman William J. Rivera said the resolution took on a “life of its own.”

“I want to thank everybody who has been involved in this whole process,” he added. “It started out as just a suggestion. … I think just for the public interest alone is why I will be voting in favor of this resolution.”

Councilman Adelino Gonzalez said a lot of support has been shown for the Complete Streets policy.

“We do have a beautiful city and this is only going to enhance what we have. … If it helps bring people from Fredonia down to the lake it’s something that’s going to be nice,” Gonzalez continued. “It’s going to be for people to be able to mingle with the traffic without any problems. … It’s something that’s definitely been needed, something to beautify our streets. … I think in the long run it’s going to be great for our community and great for our citizens. I am 100 percent in support of it.”

Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak read a prepared statement thanking Chautauqua County Health Network’s Andrew Dixon and Janet Forbes for their efforts, along with the Revitalize Dunkirk group for its efforts.

“This group, working closely with Andy, volunteered their time and efforts to help collect … data which will help us further understand the specific needs of our community and the council thanks each and every active volunteer member of the Revitalize Dunkirk group,” Kiyak stated, adding thanks to all organizations and individuals who expressed their support for passage of the local law.

After the meeting Mayor Anthony J. Dolce complimented the public for “working so hard in getting behind the cause.”

Dolce said he doesn’t see any drastic changes immediately, although more funding could be available as a result of the law.

“We’re already taking pedestrian and bicycle traffic into consideration when we are doing our work,” he explained, adding the purpose of the law is to bring a safer environment. “Now you have some legislation that may open some funding sources to help get that done. We’re always interested in funding sources that will help get worthwhile projects done. In the short term I don’t envision anything new coming now that we have this legislation; maybe there’s some other avenues out there that we can explore. … Without the legislation you can still apply, but this helps your cause.

“This legislation can just increase your chances of getting grant money.”

Council’s next regular meeting is set for June 3.

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