HANOVER – For Hanover residents, a lot of hope rides on the proposed hotel and water park development becoming a reality.
At the Hanover Town Board meeting Monday, 20 or so residents attended to show their support of the project, but nearly 700 community members signed their support for the project on a petition.
Hotel and water park developer Tony Borrello has been trying to break ground on the multi-million dollar project for two years and recently expressed his frustrations with the red tape in a letter to town officials. After Borrello threatened to move the project elsewhere, county, town and Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency officials met with Borrello and his daughter Michelle Borrello-Grisante to work things out.
During the scare of losing the development, Hanover resident Ruth Deike expressed her disappointment on Facebook, which led to the idea of residents organizing behind the project with a petition and a rally at the next Hanover Town Board meeting.
Deike placed petitions asking the town board to work with Borrello at local businesses.
She presented the 692 signatures collected in one week to the town board.
“We, as town of Hanover residents, are deeply concerned about the lack of growth in the area. We are saddened by the departure of young people and the splitting of families year after year due to a lack of opportunity in this area,” she said.
She added after the loss of Petri Baking Products and the uncertainty at Lake Shore Hospital, the hotel and water park development has been a beacon of hope.
“News of the water park being built brought hope and anticipation to many; hope for jobs, hope for new business to follow and hope for the future of our children and grandchildren,” she continued. “All eyes watched as the land was prepared for groundbreaking. After two years of watching and waiting, it seems there has been no progress and many setbacks. Now the heartbreaking possibility that the project may be lost has hit residents hard.”
She asked that the board work with Borrello to clear the way for this project to go forward.
Councilman Kevin O’Connell thanked the residents for attending the rally for the water park and said the town board likes to see passion from its residents on issues.
Supervisor Todd Johnson said there has been a lot of negativity surrounding the project from several different sources, but the town board is, and has been, behind the project 100 percent.
“I commend Mrs. Deike for her passion and for rallying the troops to support this. … The board is more than supportive, more than gracious and more than willing to work meet the needs of the project to the point where we are willing to expedite the process by hiring an independent contractor to work solely on this project instead of our building inspector,” he said.
He added the town has still not received architect-stamped drawings for the entire project, but six days after receiving plans for the McDonalds part of the development, the restaurant received its building permit.
“We can’t do anything until we get them,” he said.
Residents who attended the meeting said they believe this development is needed.
Pat Depasquale, who made a sign saying, “We want the water park. Let’s work together to create jobs and tourism,” said when her family – who moved to Virginia – come to visit in the summer, the closest they can stay is in Dunkirk.
Sandy Pagano said an increase in the number of job opportunities will help stop so many young people from leaving the area.
The hotel and water park project was presented in August 2012 to the CCIDA by MMM Development with the plan of building a three-story hotel with 70 to 74 rooms, a banquet hall, meeting room and fitness center as well as an attached water park and two restaurants. The development is estimated to add 70 construction jobs and 150 full- and part-time permanent jobs. It is also hoped this development will attract other businesses to the Irving/Sunset Bay area.