DUNKIRK – Steve Neratko, Dunkirk’s planning director, said that the city still plans to proceed with a project to demolish several abandoned homes.

The city will work with the Chautauqua County Landbank Program and add some funding from the Community Development Block Grant program to do the project.

Neratko outlined the plans at a meeting of the Dunkirk Economic Development Committee on Tuesday in City Hall.

Once the homes are demolished and lots are cleared, neighbors will be notified about buying the lots and adding them to their property.

“This is a community development program to beautify neighborhoods and give neighbors an opportunity to add a driveway or have more yard area,” said Neratko.

“The parcels would have to be merged so they don’t continue to be on the foreclosure list year after year,” Neratko said.

Mayor A.J. Dolce said that there are some issues that still need to be resolved but that the city hopes to start demolishing homes this summer.

In other matters, the committee learned there are eight, 12-foot-by-4-foot community gardens waiting to be assigned to residents. There will be a $10 rental fee for the season for a garden. Raised beds with soil have been set up in several areas in the city.

Residents interested in renting a garden should call the Planning Office and fill out the application. Gardens must be used for vegetables.

This is the first year for the program, which is being funded by the Chautauqua County Health Network. Beds can be adopted by an individual, family or group.

The committee also heard updates on the city’s summer festivals schedule.

Neratko also announced that the Rural Ministries group and a second business on Central Avenue have applied to refurbish their facades under the Main Street Grant Program. The businesses could be eligible for partial funding to repair the front areas of the buildings. The grant funding targets the first three blocks of Central Avenue. Rural Ministries owns six storefront areas in the area.

Rural Ministries is a nonprofit group that operates the Friendly Kitchen, a secondhand clothing store and other services for low-income people.