Grants the focus of Economic Development Committee

Grant round-up was the focus in City Hall last week as the Economic Development Committee collected to discuss the 2018 year as whole.

Grants that were heavily featured included the Tree Inventory Grant of $49,500, which will help to make a plan in managing tree inventory within the city, the Wright Park Improvement Project and Point Gratiot Project, which have both been completed, and the DOT intersections improvements, which is part of Central Connections Pier Project. This grant of an additional $50,000 addresses the intersection of Central Avenue and Route 5 and goes hand-in-hand with the Pier Project the city has outlined.

Coming up in 2019, Dunkirk is looking to obtain a Cleaner, Greener Communities Grant by completing four out of 10 requirements by NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research & Development Authority). These grants range in amounts of $5,000 to $100,000, which would fund green energy projects throughout the city.

The highlight, of course, was the discussion of the Smart Growth Projects.

Parts of the overall project include Central Connections and the pier. Central Connections is budgeted for $781,779 which includes Lakeshore’s paving contract, the four intersections that were redone, crosswalks that will be laid in the spring, striping, Block Club’s branding and marketing pieces and engineering and inspection fees, according to Director of Planning and Development Rebecca Yanus.

The pier is going to come in at $1.3 million roughly, with the final designs to be presented at the Planning Board meeting tonight.

A point of contention during this discussion was in regards to Charles Pringle’s $200,000 share of the grant for his waterfront bar.

“I question the impact on six of the other businesses in the locale,” Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan stated. “Are we going to be cannibalizing these other businesses that have been there for years?”

His biggest concern is that the Council has no say in the project.

“There are businesses that have been there, that may be affected by something that is being two-thirds funded by grants,” he added. “I don’t want to say it’s an unfair advantage, I think it’s a neat idea. I just don’t know how many more times we can continue slicing the pie down there.”

“The goal is to bring more development to Central Avenue and to our waterfront and the state sees our waterfront as an asset and that is our biggest asset in our community,” Yanus said. “The goal is to funnel some funding into projects like Charles Pringle’s to gain more development along the waterfront and to benefit our businesses that are currently there. I also want to let existing businesses know that they have to come to the table and be a part of these planning processes and be involved, because the reason that Charles Pringle is getting this funding is he’s been involved in our BOA (Brownfield Opportunity Areas) planning, he’s been involved in our DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) application, those are projects that we did put in as a planning department and that New York state has recognized.”

Heenan also expressed concern with additional parking to which Yanus agreed and added that there is already projects in the works to help address this issue.