Despite resistance, area moves forward

Here’s our annual look back on some of the big topics — and minor skirmishes — from 2017:

¯ JANUARY — With Fredonia trustees wanting input on hiring decisions, Mayor Athanasia Landis responds to a recent heated board meeting. “However, and as I said yesterday, I am exhausted discussing trivialities when actual problems are looming here in the village.” Eleven months later, those problems remain.

¯ FEBRUARY — There’s plenty of fall-out from the 2016 election — and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed is taking the brunt of it from many constituents. During this month, Reed stood tall while facing criticism. Many in attendance were not polite. “Protesters at the Reed events were far from that, especially in Cherry Creek,” we wrote. “Some were downright rude. Many in those crowds, to be fair, lean to the left. Their showing up was appreciated, but the manners were not.”

¯ MARCH –Village election turnouts were horrendous — mostly due to an ongoing problem: uncontested races. Even worse, some elected officials thought numbers deserved to be applauded when 39 voters cast ballots. “This was a great turnout,” said Susan Peacock, Sinclairville clerk. “Last year only 13 people voted. We are considering moving our elections to November to get more people (to the polls).” Wow. Maybe 45 next time.

¯ APRIL — There is an advantage to the state’s legislation of a tax cap for elected officials. It gives them a false belief that raising taxes, under the cap limit, is still a good thing. “Last year, the inflation rate average was about 1.3 percent. The good news is this keeps the cap lower,” we wrote. “But the bad news, especially for those on Social Security, is their monthly paycheck becomes stagnant.”

¯ MAY — On April 12, a man who was attempting to cut down a limb became pinned between a tree and the ladder he was using on King Street in Dunkirk. He was rescued by firefighters, but some still wanted to complain. “We have to do something … assign somebody who speaks (Spanish) before somebody gets hurt,” Councilman Adelino Gonzalez said dramatically. By the way, someone was already hurt. It had nothing to do with a language barrier.

¯ JUNE — Getting on board for regionalism is a threat to some. It may cost power in terms of government or it may mean loss of jobs for others. One thing it will not mean, however, is higher costs. “Unfortunately, there has been some negativity toward the consolidation and dissolution efforts,” we wrote. “Most of that is just noise coming from the CSEA county union. One member claimed, in a May County Legislature meeting, taxes are not lowered enough and services are lost. Don’t tell that to the former Wayne County villages of Lyons and Macedon, which reported 60 and 73 percent lower tax rates after the dissolution.”

¯ JULY — More shockwaves for the local economy came with the selling of the former Cliffstar facility to Refresco. “This is a good thing for the Dunkirk plant as Refresco has a very strong balance sheet and they’re investing in North America with the intentions to grow the business in North America,” said Kevin Sanvidge, former Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency administrative director and chief executive officer. “This is positive news for the employees at the Dunkirk plant.” So far, we have not heard otherwise.

¯ AUGUST — There was hope after the repurchase of buildings on the 300 block of Central Avenue from the United Secular American Center for the Disabled Inc. in Dunkirk. The buildings were repurchased by the previous owners at auction. One of the buyers, James Best, made a promise on the purchase. “Should we keep the buildings, which it seems like we are, we’ve told everybody that we will keep them in pristine condition and do whatever it takes to renovate the buildings as necessary,” Best said. Unfortunately, as of today, there’s no evidence to back that up.

¯ SEPTEMBER — Dunkirk may be on the rebound with Athenex and other development projects, but it was its own worse enemy for the last four decades. “(Mayor Wilfred) Rosas, who is working on his second budget, is a victim of previous poor financial planning. Dunkirk through its losses of business and population over the last 40 years never really wanted to change anything inside City Hall. As those job and residential losses took place, Dunkirk stood pat passing the costs on to current property owners in terms of taxes and fees.”

¯ OCTOBER — Dunkirk is a winner in Smart Growth funding, receiving $2.5 million from New York state. A photo from the event, above, included with this article, includes Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Rosas, a rising state star. “Because of Rosas’ dedication to constantly networking with state representatives and leaders in Buffalo, Albany and New York, he has Dunkirk on Albany’s radar,” we wrote. “That’s tremendously important in having this city — and region — take positive steps forward.”

¯ NOVEMBER — Members of the State University of New York system have been part of a squeeze. Over the years, state aid to the institutions have been less. Public schools, however, continue to reap the rewards of inefficient districts and buildings. “Those schools that are the smallest in terms of enrollment are often the richest when it comes to receiving state dollars. Take Ripley schools, for instance, with around 300 students. Currently in a tuitioning agreement with Chautauqua Lake, its district receives nearly 75 percent of its revenue from state aid for its $9 million budget.” Without that aid, however, it’s a fact that district would merge or dissolve.