Candidates divided over downtown funds
Editor’s note: This is the second of a four-part debate between candidates for New York State Assembly.
Chautauqua County’s city downtowns have benefitted greatly from New York state within the last decade, but that funding for both Dunkirk and Jamestown may slow down in the coming years.
Both incumbent Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and challenger Christina Cardinale addressed the improvements seen in the two county cities in recent years. In Jamestown, the municipality received $1 million revitalization grant and $4 million in financial restructuring funds. Dunkirk in recent years has seen renovations, courtesy of New York state, to the City Pier as well as the parks.
Future investments, for the time being however, remains in question.
“Unfortunately, until we get the budget crisis under control, it’s unlikely you’re going to see a lot of additional funding available,” Goodell said. He said in the coming months, he will be watching the financial restructuring funds and the transition aid for Dunkirk that replaces lost tax revenue from the closing of the NRG Energy Inc. plant.
Cardinale gave full credit to state Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the major piece of development in the city: The National Comedy Center. She said a bulk of that funding came after city leaders filled out an application for the project.
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“I think your senators and Assembly people should be fighting for these types of endeavors. The responsibility is up to the legislators to advocate for these projects, more infrastructure. … I think our legislators should be fighting,” she noted with a question for the incumbent. “I don’t know how much fighting you’re doing?”
Goodell said he has worked with the regional economic development councils, especially on the larger projects. He said he also spoke with Cuomo and the lieutenant governor in the early stages of the Comedy Center’s efforts.
Cardinale disagreed with his recollections. “I remember the governor making this initiative and teaming up with Democratic mayors to work on these revitalization projects while you sat by,” she said.
Goodell praised former city Mayor Sam Teresi and talked about the team effort “to make it reality” that was put forth by all the stakeholders, including Tom Benson, into making the Comedy Center a reality. “It would be nice if you only had to fill out an application and the money would come in return mail,” he said. “In reality, it’s an incredible amount of work when you’re dealing with that type of funding.”
Cardinale, in this discussion and other debates talked about the underserved areas of the city that appear to be going ignored. “There’s inequality and inequity,” she said. “There’s very, very poor areas and very, very rich areas. So I think that is a larger conversation to have. … I can absolutely recogize that sometimes we don’t concentrate on the suffering and struggle.”