A Wright-ful end to summer

OBSERVER Photo by Mary Heyl On Friday afternoon, the mayor's office and local and state officials participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the city's Wright Park Improvements Project. Pictured, from left, are Lynn Marinelli, director of intergovernmental relations at New York Empire State Development, Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas, Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Civiletto, Director of Planning and Development Rebecca Yanus, Chautauqua County Legislator Bob Bankoski and First Ward Councilman Donald Williams.

Friday’s warm, sunny weather was the perfect backdrop for the celebration of the recently completed Wright Park Improvements Project at the Lakeside Pavilion.

The celebration, which took place on the last Friday of summer vacation for many, was led by Rebecca Yanus, director of planning and development for the city of Dunkirk. Yanus welcomed area officials to a ribbon cutting ceremony and predicted even more improvements for Wright Park in the coming year.

“Four months ago on a cold April day, we celebrated the ground-breaking here at Wright Park, and today I’m happy to celebrate the project’s completion with a ribbon cutting ceremony,” said Yanus. All ages can enjoy the park, which now includes a splash pad, pickleball courts, futsol courts, improved basketball courts and additional amenities provided at the newly renovated pavilion. The park can now be used year ’round, as the pickleball courts can be flooded to be used as an ice skating rink in the winter months.

In addition to Mayor Rosas and the members of the Common Council, Yanus recognized Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello for all of their support for the project.

“This project is a great example of leveraging funding in order to see a project through to implementation. Our main funders include New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for $450,000 towards the overall project costs, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of Dunkirk, who funded 25 percent of the project costs through cash and in-kind services, and lastly a special thanks to the Dunkirk-Fredonia Rotary Club for their donation of $20,000 towards our splash pad.”

Mayor Rosas said, “I also want to acknowledge the hard work and development of Rebecca Yanus and our development team. It is through their hard effort that we are accomplishing the things that we are doing here in the city of Dunkirk. We are revitalizing our waterfront and our two parks, Wright Park and Point Gratiot, are just part of the progress that we’re making here.”

Of particular excitement to many park visitors is the new splash pad, which Rosas acknowledged. “I believe it’s the only one here in the county. I had Mayor Teresi here from Jamestown who had to come over and look at it because he has been receiving many calls about why he does not have one out there,” Rosas laughed.

Lynn Marinelli, director of intergovernmental relations of New York Empire State Development recognized the big-picture impact of the project. She stated, “I’m also here on behalf of my colleague Lori Cornell, who is Governor Cuomo’s regional representative … it’s a true pleasure to be here to represent New York state and the executive branch here, especially when we can see all the investments that have taken place. Like the mayor said, New York state parks money is $449,620 of investment, but that kind of investment pays dividends. It pays dividends for quality of life of a community, for people who want to come and enjoy recreation here.

“…Rebecca informed me that the owner of the restaurant has seen a great increase of customers just from this already. This ripples out with the economic impact. It’s great for our recreation, but it does help with the economy as well.”

Yanus explained that John Dolce, owner of the Beachhouse Grill, has increased his number of seasonal employees from six to 16 this year, due to the increase in customers. She thanked Dolce for his continued service and for providing drinks for the event.

“Mayor Rosas is committed to continuing to build our major assets and we are already in the process of applying for additional funding to continue to improve these parks,” Yanus explained. “Through the Chautauqua County Health Network, we were awarded funding to do a crosswalk project from Wright Park Beach towards these activities courts so that it’s safer going from this side to the beach over here. We’re also pursuing additional funds through a CFA application to develop a large inclusive playground area here at Wright Park. … Hopefully this December we’ll find out if we’re awarded those funds. We continue to look at other avenues for funding to better connect our communities to these parks and our waterfront area.”

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Yanus led a tour of the improvements recently completed at Wright Park.