Gowanda board seeks new grants to fix ‘craters’

Pothole problems

OBSERVER Photo by J.M. Lesinski Pictured, a large pothole is seen within the Gowanda Municipal Parking Lot. New grant applications recently approved by the village board are aiming to find a long-term solution to the ‘craters’ in the area.

GOWANDA — After a weekend of excitement at The Happening in Gowanda, where many local residents once again gathered at the Gowanda Municipal Parking Lot, some may’ve noticed the deteriorating condition of the lot during their time there.

At the latest village board meeting in May, Mayor Dave Smith certainly did and made note to directly address it.

“We received a letter from Gabel Brothers concerning the condition of the municipal parking lot,” Smith began. “Kudos to our highway department for patching that up and making it driveable without ripping your wheels off.”

Smith then transitioned from the thank you, to a hefty call to action on the lot.

“However, there needs to be a long-term solution,” Smith stated. “Not only is that the parking lot for those businesses, it’s the parking lot for our community, it’s where we have large events, deliveries come and go, it needs to be taken care of.”

OBSERVER Photo by J.M. Lesinski Pictured, the Gowanda Municipal Parking Lot, located behind numerous downtown businesses off Main Street.

Since his inauguration, Smith has had the municipal parking lot on his agenda, and he is making it his mission to formulate a plan to fix it.

“I wanted to update the village that it’s been a goal of mine since I became mayor to get that taken care of the right way, not just patch it,” Smith continued. “The village is collaborating with the (Hollywood) theatre, we are seeking some grant funds and opportunities to repair the lot.”

In refurbishing the lot, consideration for its uses remains at the forefront in the design process. “The initial estimates we had on the design to do the lot right with proper drainage, and also work in our infrastructure, such as electric, to make sure that we can better accommodate large-scale events without running 99 extension cords through the back area,” Smith said, then noting a hypothetical price range. “To do it right would be somewhere between $700,000 and $800,000…so we have to come up with some creative ways to get that.”

Smith also noted that committees were in the process of being formed for the project. “A committee will be established to review property lines, lease agreements and funding requirements,” Smith stated. “We will make this happen.”

In addition to the committees, Smith also provided a tentative start date for the lot work. “We anticipate to start work on the parking lot in the 2021 fiscal year…not this year, but the following, we plan to start work on that,” he affirmed. “We will do it, no matter what we have to do to get it done. Our community and our businesses that work hard to make life good here deserve it.”

Off the same note, Smith also acknowledged that the lot has been a continuous problem for the village. “This board knows its an inherited problem, the lot’s been in poor condition for a long time,” he stated. “But that’s no excuse. We’re the current board, it’s our job to fix it.”

Later in the meeting, Treasurer Traci Hopkins also informed the board of some very recent updates on the lot project. “Mark Burr was able to get this to us two hours prior to the board meeting, but it is time sensitive so we wanted to do what we can to throw it on,” Hopkins began.

“There are two proposals that Mark Burr, village engineer, is recommending that the board take action to approve these proposals to seek grant-writing services to apply for two separate CFA grants that are available to the village of Gowanda.”

Hopkins then went into detail on the first grant, which would be for wastewater services. “The first one is for the wastewater treatment plant, the grant will help fund some work that is required there to meet requirements under the SPDES permits,” Hopkins said. “They (Wendall grant-writing services) are willing to enter into that, write that grant for us as a proposal.”

Hopkins also noted, “It can be funded from our 2019-2020 fiscal budget in the sewer admin contractual line.”

The second grant, as Hopkins announced, would be for the lot. “The second grant is on the municipal parking lot,” she stated. “There is a green infrastructure grant, CFA, and Mr. Burr is confident that if we can include some green infrastructure opportunities in that remediation that we have a greater chance of being funded, which will help reduce the local share and the match that the village will have to come up with on their own.”

In addition to the grants, the grant-writers are also responsible for an associated study involved with the project. “Wendall is agreeing to also engage in writing that CFA on behalf of the village, and also do the Engineers Feasibility Study that will be required regardless of who writes the grant,” Hopkins clarified. “It’s a requirement within the CFA proposal.”

Hopkins concluded her update with a due date, and an explanation of the seemingly rushed process to get things moving. “These grants are due July 26 and if the board approves those, Mr. Burr will start looking and working on the municipal parking lot parcels, the ownership of those parcels, the lease agreements that need to be updated,” she noted. “Because all that will need to be required in the CFA, which is why this is so timely.”

Immediately following the notice, the board unanimously approved Wendall to apply for both grants and the feasibility study.

The next meeting of the Gowanda Village Board will be today, June 11 at 6 p.m. in the village hall.

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