DUNKIRK – The Healthy Places program will begin working with city officials to create community gardens and improve bicycling facilities and other health-conscious initiatives.
Members of the Common Council’s Economic Development Committee heard from Andrew Dickson representing the Healthy Places program Wednesday at a meeting at City Hall. He said his group, which is backed by the Chautauqua County Health Network, is working out a cooperative agreement with Dunkirk’s Development Agency to promote several programs in the city.
Dickson said the group will be working on Complete Streets legislation, which promotes neighborhoods where bicyclists, walkers and motorists can all travel safely and efficiently. He said the group already has made plans to purchase several bike racks and that they will be distributed in the city. He said the racks will be available to business and city-owned sites for use. Funding is available for eight racks this year.
Dickson said the Revitalize Dunkirk group is currently seeking signatures on a petition to present to the Council to promote a bike path through the city.
The other plans of the Healthy Places program will be to have a better farmers’ market in Dunkirk and to help with community gardens, he said.
The gardens were brought up last year but failed to get through the planning stages due to lack of insurance. Dickson said his group has solved the insurance issue and hopes to identify sites for the gardens.
“We are also hoping to get some improvements along Route 60 and Route 5,” he said, noting that the state Department of Transportation, which maintains the two highways, has already established a Complete Streets policy. He said he would anticipate that both highways may see bike paths, enhanced parking areas or even a “buffer zone” where people could ride bikes more safely.
Steve Neratko, director of planning and development for the city, confirmed that his department is working closely with Dickson and hopes to have meetings about the improvements in the near future.
Businesses interested in having a bike parking rack in front of their locations are encouraged to contact the city’s planning office.
Councilwoman Stephanie Kiyak, chairwoman of the committee, asked for a report on the Community Development Block Grant funding program. Neratko said that a five-year plan for funding through the federal block grant program has been conditionally approved. He said that 2013 funds from the program have been released.
Neratko said that a letter was received, confirming the city’s funding for the seawall and lakefront recreation project. He said his office will not go further with planning or seeking bids for the projects until state officials provide a timeline for funding. The city received $790,000 in state grants to replace the seawall along Lake Front Boulevard and to install new playground equipment and make other improvements near the beaches.