City planner summarizes progress of projects

OBSERVER File Photo Dunkirk’s renovated pier is complete while work on the bar Pier 30 is expected this year.

Projects in the city of Dunkirk have been progressing well throughout 2019 and heading into 2020. At last month’s economic development meeting, Rebecca Wurster, director of planning and development, along with her team, reviewed the current grant contract agreements timelines and where they stand as far as remaining funds.

The LISC Zombie Properties grant

Of the $125,500 grant, $29,105 remains. “We hired an attorney to do some work with zombie properties in the city and identified eight zombie properties, one of the eight has gone through the process with the banks and has been sold,” Wurster stated. “We’re working on seven others, building and zoning department has been performing complete action summaries and working with the attorneys on that; it’s a long process because some of them are bank owned.”

The current property sold is located on Point Drive W. The remainder of the grant covers attorney fees and foreclosure prevention; $70,000 was spent to cover the “Choosing Dunkirk” housing survey.

Comprehensive Plan

The comprehensive plan was passed and approved for implementation by the previous council on Dec. 17 along with all SEQR reviews and a negative impact study. The comprehensive plan will aid the city in deciding where they need to focus development on according to public opinion and need; all $45,000 was spent.

Smart Growth Project

The $2.5 million awarded by Empire State Development now sits at close to $200,000 remaining. This grant covered the Dunkirk Pier construction, the Central Avenue Connections project and marina owner Charles Pringle’s bar Pier 30, which is still being constructed. The pier has been completed as well as the Central Connections project, Pier 30 is moving along.

Restore NY

The Restore NY grant of $1 million has not been drawn down from yet. It will however be applied to a mixed use private project at the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Washington Avenue. The city is hoping to have a spring time ground breaking. The building, purchased by Troy and Jolie Sasse will feature three stories of market rate apartments of different sizes, one and two bedroom units as well as lofts and doctor and physical therapist offices on the ground floor.

Point Gratiot

rain gardens

The $169,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency is a partnered endeavor with Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District on its Lake Erie Green Infrastructure Project. Erie County SWCD was awarded federal funds to partner with both the city of Dunkirk and the town of Evans on this project. The city’s Point Gratiot Park was chosen as a pilot program for the implementation of green infrastructure to help decrease storm water runoff to the beach and into Lake Erie to help improve water quality and to decrease beach erosion. So far contractors have broke ground and pulled up all of the old asphalt, before having to be rerouted to Evans for storm repairs there. The city will however reap the benefits from this grant.

Tree inventory and management plan

Of the $49,500 grant from the NYS Department of Conservation, $30,424 was spent doing an inventory of the city and developing a management plan of how to deal with the city’s trees; both were complete as of Dec. 9. Highlights include maintenance removal and planting recommendations that concluded that the overall condition of Dunkirk’s trees are “fair.”

“The plan includes maps of priority planting sites where they encourage planting the right trees in the right places to make sure that we take into account growth space and power lines,” Community Development Planner Jill Meaux said. “Dunkirk has an abundance of maple trees more than any other species, which isn’t great, so they recommend not planting anymore because what could happen is if a disease targeting maples comes through it could wipe out the population and there’d be no trees.”

According to the plan, there is a recommendation of no more than 10% of any one species.

Senior Center

The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York awarded the $750,000 grant to the city to develop the Senior Center further and so far there has been an architect/engineer hired for the job and a contract and design is being put together. Meetings will be held with the seniors in January to go over preliminary plans and to hear more recommendations.

NRG strategic plan

The city has been working on the study afforded by the Appalachian Regional Commission to the tune of $60,000. Three options are being looked at for the site utilizing this grant. The first is from an industrial standpoint, the second is looking at green energy and other energy related infrastructure that could happen at the site and the third is what would it cost to totally demolish, cleanup and make this site completely usable for residential or park purposes.

“Phase one of this study is to look at the current conditions, it’s a better understanding of what is at the site, what environmental aspects that we are dealing with,” Wurster stated. “So a phase one environmental site assessment, pulled as much information as publicly available and as much as NRG can give to us. That study has been completed for the most part.”

The 71 acre site is also seated with a National Grid switch yard that takes up five acres and will not be moving; something to be considered with the reuse of the structure.

Grand Prix boat races

This two-year funded project is being carried by Market NY with a price tag of $225,000, of that $103,714 has been used. No 2020 date has been set.

Animal Shelter

$50,000 of the $100,000 grant from NYS Agriculture and Markets was spent on the building located by the dog park on Main Street Extension with $50,000 left to do infrastructure improvements, buy kennels, etcetera. City electrical and water has been in reviewing stuff and readying the building for animals in the near future.

Lakeshore Drive Complete Streets project

$1.5 million was awarded to the city from NYS Department of Transportation to make improvements from Main Street to Brigham Road. These include everything from drainage to safety features and will better connect the lake side with the city side. The first part is the design phase, which will cost roughly $370,000 of the grant. Construction is being looked at more in 2021.


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