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Little League won’t get Dunkirk CDBG funds

Submitted Photo Dunkirk Little League withdraws application to get project funded.

The Dunkirk Little League has withdrawn an application to get a project funded through the city Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Paul VanDenVouver, the Dunkirk Common Council’s Councilman-at-large, said the group’s leadership stated in a letter that they did not want to get in the middle of a political battle. Councilors supported using CDBG money for the Little League project, which includes new scoreboards and other work at the Wright Park complex, while Mayor Willie Rosas did not.

VanDenVouver said he will propose a resolution for the council’s next meeting, set for Aug. 3, funding the project through use of Dunkirk’s Bill Cease Fund. The former owner of Cease’s Commissary donated hundreds of thousands to the city before he died, specifying that it be used for recreational projects.

Jill Meaux, city planning and development director, said that she and Rosas also back the use of the Cease Fund for the Little League project.

“We recommended that that project be funded through the Bill Cease fund instead of CDBG, which is a more appropriate use of funds,” she said. The council decided, at a July 12 special meeting, to go ahead with the CDBG funding anyway — but rescinded that after the Little League withdrew its application.

Meaux provided a breakdown of where funds are going in the federal government grant:

— $85,000 to the city Lake Shore Complete Streets project;

— $62,300 for upgrades at Point Gratiot and the Firemen’s Grounds;

— $55,200 for the Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation (CHRIC) emergency roof repair program in Dunkirk;

— $42,584 to the city’s sidewalk replacement and repair program;

— $30,000 for the Chautauqua County Land Bank Lead Removal Project;

— $27,000 to a CHRIC program assisting first-time homebuyers with closing costs and down payments;

— $15,000 for the Boys & Girls Club Bridging the Gap youth mentoring and tutoring program;

— $10,000 for the Chautauqua County Land Bank’s Hands on Neighborhoods crime prevention and homeowner education program;

— $10,000 for the Resource Center’s SAFER workforce retention and training program;

— $10,000 for upgrades at Wright Park’s bathrooms;

— $10,000 for community organization Kids at Promise to do a building renovation study and assessment at the old Regent Theatre, which the group plans to convert into a youth center;

— $5,455 for the city tree planting program; and

— $1,500 for the Dunkirk Public Library After School Snack Program.

The city of Dunkirk is a so-called “entitlement community” within the CDBG program, which is determined by a host of socioeconomic factors. Entitlement communities get increased access to CDBG money, but are also supposed to have stricter federal oversight of what they are doing with the funds.

Meaux said, “All entitlement communities take a standard percent of the allocation to use for administrative expenses of the program.” Because of that, her own department will be getting $89,363 from the grant.

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