Dunkirk, Gowanda land state funds from Buffalo Billion II

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that four Western New York communities have been selected to receive up to $10 million in funding from the Buffalo Billion II initiative. The City of Dunkirk, City of North Tonawanda, City of Lackawanna and Village of Gowanda are recipients of Smart Growth Community Funds for projects that utilize existing infrastructure to support placemaking, walkable communities and sustainable development.

“Buffalo Billion funding is establishing accessible, vibrant and sustainable communities across the entire region.” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this initial round of the Smart Growth Community Fund, we are encouraging the growth of new businesses, restaurants, and greenspace that will help attract young workers, build prosperity and further fuel the renaissance of Western New York.”

Following the example of successful smart growth locations such as Brooklyn, NY, Roanoke, VA, and Bend, OR — the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council is embracing growth and downtown redevelopment as core economic goals in its Strategy for Prosperity. Businesses are increasingly locating in or near vibrant, walkable downtowns built on the principles of smart growth because that’s where the millennial workforce wants to live, work, and raise a family. Investments in existing downtowns also have been found to reduce local infrastructure and municipal service costs, thus helping to ease fiscal difficulties.

The WNYREDC made recommendations for Dunkirk, North Tonawanda, Lackawanna and Gowanda to receive a portion of the available Smart Growth Community funding. Following approval of these nominations, Empire State Development staff made a visit to each of the four recommended communities to discuss their proposed project list and to better understand the locations and readiness of each project. The visit report was presented at the WNYREDC meeting in August and received approval from the committee to proceed with the awards.

Four Western New York communities were chosen based on applications and interviews that closely aligned with and met criteria of the Smart Growth Community Funds. The remaining $10 million of the fund will be awarded in future smart growth rounds.

Recipients of the Western New York Smart Growth Community Fund are included with funding recommended by the Western New York REDC below:

City of Dunkirk: Up to $2.5 million

Projects could include:

Improvements to the pier and reconfiguration of the harbor plaza, creating greenspace and a more pedestrian-friendly area for recreation and events.

Funding for the Central Connections Community Connector to create opportunities for rebranding and improving signage between downtown Dunkirk, SUNY Fredonia, and the Village of Fredonia.

Funding for a mixed-use infill development that would enhance activity along the waterfront and connect the existing waterfront trail.

Village of Gowanda: Up to $2.5 million

Projects could include:

Improve waterfront access at three locations to increase recreation and tourism:

Zoar Valley Gateway Park — Enhance the safety and accessibility of the access point located in the ruins of the former factory, and improve various overlook areas.

Creekside Park — Enhancements to the current pathways to provide access to the waterfront within the downtown area.

Aldrich Street — Formalize the area at the foot of the Aldrich Street bridge that is a popular location for fishermen.

City of North Tonawanda: Up to $2.5 million

Projects could include:

Funding for improvements at Gateway Harbor, including new public restrooms, upgraded electrical utilities to docks, new park picnic areas, and lighting.

Streetscape and pedestrian enhancements on Webster Street and Main Street, both important to the fabric of the central business district.

Pocket park improvements including new landscaping, signage, and amenities at three downtown locations.

Signage and visual improvements at downtown entry points.

Pedestrian improvements at three crossings located on River Road.

City of Lackawanna: Up to $2.5 million

Projects could include:

Central Business District intersection, streetscape, and pedestrian enhancements to improve connectivity between community assets. This could include the intersection at Ridge Road and Electric Avenue; intersection at Ridge Road and South Park; Connector Trail between the Botanical Gardens and the Basilica; and Creating a bike lane on Ridge Road from Route 5 to South Park Avenue.

Funding to help incentivize a development on a vacant parcel of land across from Memorial Field, former home to St. Barbara’s Church, with the goal of creating a mixed-use development that will include market rate housing and retail space.

Enhancements to the park adjacent to Memorial Field and the public library to expand recreational opportunities and provide a venue for public uses.

Governor Cuomo has made New York a Smart Growth state by initiating several laws, policies and programs that promote Smart Growth and downtown redevelopment since 2011. Some of these initiatives include, the Better Buffalo Fund; Upstate Revitalization Initiative; an enhanced historic preservation tax credit; land banks legislation; zombie properties reforms; brownfield redevelopment reforms; Complete Streets law and funding; Community Risk & Resiliency Act; Age Friendly/Health Across All Policies; Cleaner Greener and Clean Energy Communities; Climate-Smart Communities grants; and craft beverage reforms.

The Smart Growth Community Fund follows two rounds of the Better Buffalo Fund, which provided funding from the Buffalo Billion for the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative and Transit-Oriented Development. Over the past two years, the Better Buffalo Fund has provided over $20 million in support for projects that create compact, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods and ensure that all residents have access to the city’s emerging job centers in the area.

Investments in historic preservation tax credits since the program was expanded under the Governor’s direction in 2013, have also resulted in more than $3 billion in investments from both the state and federal tax credit. Over two-thirds of those investments have been made in historic downtowns and commercial centers in Upstate New York, and in Western New York alone, 88 projects are yielding $532.2 million in qualified rehabilitation costs. That represents the largest number of projects in any region of the state and the largest dollar investment of any Upstate region.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the Regional Economic Development Councils, said, “The amazing transformation taking place in Western New York has attracted worldwide recognition and is nothing less than astounding to people like me who grew up in this region. Programs like the Smart Growth Community Fund made available through Buffalo Billion II are creating a sustainable future for our younger generations. Our smaller cities and towns are taking an active role in their revitalization, utilizing historic buildings, waterfronts and green spaces to create places where people want to come live, work and play.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The first recipients of the WNY Smart Growth Community Fund are strong advocates of sustainable development. With Buffalo Billion II funding, these communities will make their downtowns even more dynamic, bringing jobs and growth to their city centers.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of SolEpoxy Inc., Jeff Belt said, “The REDC congratulates these communities for working toward creating prosperous downtowns grounded in smart growth strategies. They are creating places that are ripe for economic opportunity and attractive to a dynamic workforce.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of the State University of New York at Fredonia, Dr. Virginia Horvath said, “The direction of sprawl is finally being reversed as we see the value in reinvesting in our cities, towns, and villages. The REDC congratulates these communities for staying focused on their smart growth strategies.”

Senator Catharine M. Young said, “Our goal of transforming Western New York’s historic communities into thriving, growing destinations moved a step closer today with the announcement of Smart Growth Community Funding from New York State. A diversity of transformative projects will benefit from the state’s investment, including significant improvements to the pier and waterfront area bordering Lake Erie in The City of Dunkirk and renovations to enhance creekside access in the Village of Gowanda. Taken together with the other promising economic development initiatives that are already underway, these projects are poised to advance job growth, enhance quality of life and build the vibrant future that residents deserve. I congratulate the winning communities on this exciting news, including Dunkirk and Gowanda in my district, and thank Governor Cuomo for his support of our region.”

Assemblyman Andy Goodell said, “Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his strong continued support of Chautauqua County. Through the WNY Smart Growth Community Fund, these four communities will be able to continue to enhance their vibrant downtowns giving young workers even more of a reason to live and work in our region.”

Assemblyman Joe Giglio said, “I am really excited that a portion of the Buffalo Billion II will be awarded to Gowanda’s downtown. The Smart Growth Community funds will help to attract private investments to continue the improvement of our community. In turn, this will help to encourage new businesses and attract new residents and revitalize our area. I congratulate everyone involved in this endeavor.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “With these Smart Growth Fund investments four WNY communities are moving ahead on their own revitalizations, improving their community centers and building more sustainable spaces for future growth. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued attention to improving our region and for this wise use of Buffalo Billion II funding.”

Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan said, “On the heels of the New Athenex Pharmaceutical manufacturing plant set to break ground soon in the Town of Dunkirk, I am thrilled that Governor Cuomo has awarded Buffalo Billion II Smart Growth funds to the City of Dunkirk. This major investment will supercharge the ongoing revitalization of our City’s Lakefront development and downtown Central Avenue business district.”

Mayor of Dunkirk Willie Rosas said, “Today’s smart growth award from Governor Cuomo ensures that Dunkirk will continue to take concrete steps to improve the overall vitality of our city. The projects we have planned will revitalize the business district and enhance the waterfront for the benefit of residents and also to attract a greater number of tourists to the region.”

Mayor of Gowanda David Smith said, “The smart growth funding that we have been chosen to receive today enables Gowanda to continue to improve the access visitors and residents have to our beautiful waterfront and make it easier for those in our downtown area to get to it. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for the WNY Smart Growth Community Fund award, we look forward to all of the enhancements this funding will allow us to make. The Governor’s passion for small communities in Update and Western New York is invigorating to all of us small communities who are working hard every day to make things great for our residents.”


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