GOWANDA – One project will convert a longtime brownfield into a park featuring fishing, athletic fields and scenic overlooks.
The other will restore a historic movie theater in the heart of Gowanda.
Both ideas received the go-ahead for funding last week from the Cattaraugus County Legislature, whose members had visited the north county village on a fact-finding mission before voting their approval.
The most ambitious project targets the old Peter Cooper glue factory site along Cattaraugus Creek, which will be converted into a park, complete with scenic overlooks and access to what is billed as some of the best fishing in the region. The Legislature allocated $203,952 toward the cost of work on the site, which is considered a doorway to scenic Zoar Valley.
Additional funding is being sought. Gowanda Area Redevelopment Corp. had submitted a proposal to the county economic development committee to tap casino revenue to transform the brownfield.
A total of $104,388 was approved toward the renovation of the Hollywood Theater on West Main Street. The theater currently is being renovated by the nonprofit Historic Hollywood Theater Ltd., which hopes to restore the old showplace to its 1926 glory.
The funding approved by the Legislature targets repairs to the old building’s HVAC system.
The theater’s renovation is viewed as a key to obtaining more grants, creating more jobs and placing the showplace in the ranks of Gowanda and Cattaraugus County heritage sites.
Both resolutions were approved in voice votes but not without some discussion.
Legislator Susan Labuhn, D-Salamanca, said she wanted the brownfield proposal returned to the economic development committee for additional consideration. Legislator William Sprague, D-Yorkshire, seconded that proposal.
However, legislator James Snyder, R-Olean, called the project solid and urged its immediate approval.
Legislator Richard Lamberson, D-Allegany, asked if all ownership issues had been settled, noting some work on the project site already had been completed under a county shared-services agreement with the village. However, County Attorney Tom Brady said there are no ownership issues.
The proposal to return the issue to committee failed in a weighted roll-call vote.