DUNKIRK – The City of Dunkirk and its northern Chautauqua County neighbors stand to benefit from three state grants announced this week by the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The grants include $1 million for the northern Chautauqua County water district and $65,000 in planning funds for the Lake Erie Waterfront Revitalization Program.
Another grant – $540,000 – will go toward an ambitious seawall and bike path project in the City of Dunkirk.
Mayor A.J. Dolce said the funding for replacement of the seawall along Lake Front Boulevard will not only enhance safety but make the area a destination.
“We think our plans to make the waterfront area a destination with splash pools and other recreational activities really impressed the decision makers,” Dolce said. “The new seawall will be attractive and functional, but the added playground and family recreation areas will make the area more popular than it is now.”
“We are even looking at a beach promenade,” added the mayor, who said officials have been talking about a grand entrance to the beach from Lake Front Boulevard. Also, the Lake Front Boulevard area will be the final stretch of a recreational bike path that starts at Point Gratiot near the city’s lighthouse.
“We brought the bike path to the corner of Main Street and Route 5, and now we will extend it along the seawall,” Dolce said.
The new grant adds to $250,000 secured for the bike path from earlier state funds. Dolce said some local funding will be added to complete the project, which is in the design phase. Construction could start in the spring.
Kathy Tampio, director of Chadwick Bay Regional Development Association, also announced the Northern Chautauqua County Water District project, which was spearheaded by the Chadwick Bay group, received $65,000 in planning funds for the Lake Erie Waterfront Revitalization Program, which encourages waterfront communities to seek out projects that have both local and regional benefits.
Tampio and Chadwick Bay directors believe the three grants show renewed interest in revitalizing Chautauqua County.
Tampio, Dolce and Chautauqua County Executive-elect Vince Horrigan have been meeting on the next phases of the water district, which received the $1 million. Tampio noted the County Legislature still must approve the creation of a water agency. To that end, a resolution on membership of the water agency is on the Legislature’s agenda for this month.
“There is a lot of work to be done,” Tampio said, “including having the county seek bonding to pay for the environmental studies and other early planning for the new water district.”
Initial plans call for the City of Dunkirk to be the supplier of water to several communities in the region along the Lake Erie shoreline.
“Ultimately this will mean safe, plentiful water for the residents and business that are already in the north county and a great source for new businesses thinking about relocating to our area,” Tampio said.
Tampio said the revitalization program got half of what was requested but that its local sources, including Nestle-Purina, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and Fredonia State College, have pledged funding and resources for the project.