A large collection of connected buildings on Central Avenue between Second Street and Lake Shore Drive would be getting a much-needed renovation if Dunkirk officials have their way. One immediate obstacle, building owners would have to be willing to provide matching funds for any work done.
Common Council approved a set of resolutions dealing with grant applications at its meeting Tuesday with the largest dollar amount in 54-2012. That resolution authorized the city to apply for a grant up to $500,000 from the state's Office of Community Renewal under the New York State Main Street Program.
Planning and Development Director Steven Neratko explained the resolutions, saying his department has been working closely with SUNY Fredonia, the SUNY Incubator and the Center for Regional Advancement.
OBSERVER Photos by Gib Snyder
The renovation of the Coburn Block, which sits on Central Avenue between Lake Shore Drive and Second Street, is a goal of Dunkirk officials who would like business owners to provide matching funding to grant funds used in building renovations.
Resolutions 52-2012 and 53-2012 deal with grants to help the city's trees; with the first for $1,000 to pay for some trees and their planting along Central Avenue between Lake Shore Drive and the CSX railroad tracks. The second grant would allow the city to put together an inventory of - and a plan for - trees that are on city property; either in parks, other city property or in city rights-of-way.
As for 54-2012 and that grant's goals, Neratko said the city is in talks with building owners in the target area to see what amount of work they are interested in doing.
"Generally, you want to apply for an amount that makes sense," he explained. "You don't want to apply for $500,000 if you're going to be doing $200,000 worth of work. Basically, it provides funding to the business owners themselves, so really, we're just helping out with building renovations."
During council's regular meeting, Mayor Anthony J. Dolce used his communications time to call on Neratko to talk about the renovation grant.
"It will provide matching funds to building owners who would like to do renovations on their property," Neratko stated. "It will also provide funds for streetscape improvements, again trees, benches, garbage receptacles, anything along the street that would help dress up the area."
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala asked how that area was targeted.
"Does it have anything to do with the Amtrak, dressing up that part of the city?" she asked. "As opposed to another section that could have had equal or as much impact?"
Neratko explained the state agency was looking for areas with a lot of commercial buildings.
"They're looking at a 'Main Street' area. The area we chose has a lot of potential for first floor commercial, upper floor residential and that is their focus," he said, adding he's talked with people from the state's Regional Development Council and Empire State Development. "They thought this was the best location within the city, they thought it would provide the most benefit. They were actually really excited, enough that they were going to expand the area. Generally they do a one block by three block area. They're willing to do a two block by two block, which is a slightly larger area."
That answer satisfied council, which then passed all resolutions by a 4-0 vote. Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak was absent due to a death in the family with First Ward Councilman Michael Michalski elected by the rest of council to chair the meeting.
After the meeting, Dolce was asked about the renovation grant.
"I can tell you our focus, our preference, would be the Coburn Block, but it all goes back to whether or not the businesses are willing to participate," he replied. "Our goal was to expand our target area as much as possible within the guidelines, whereas you open yourself to more possibilities from businesses that want to participate. It's a match, so if we put $50,000 in, they need to put $50,000 in.
"You definitely want to broaden your horizons in hopes of finding businesses that will participate."
Dolce was asked if there was enough unused funding if it could go into renovating the Flickinger building on Washington Avenue.
"That is in the area so that possibility does exist," the mayor replied. "Our preference is the Coburn Block. If you look at the requirements, or what they're asking for, commercial on the ground floor, housing on the uppers, - Coburn Block would be a great usage, but again, you have to have participating businesses."
Dolce added not-for-profits qualify, according to information the city has received.
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