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DUNKIRK CONSIDERS AMPHITHEATER, CITY CENTER SUPPORTERS SAY DEVELOPMENT ON VACANT SITE WOULD COMPLEMENT ARTS FACILITIES

Plans for developing vacant land east of the Sheraton Harborfront Inn were discussed Wednesday night at a 90-minute meeting.

Plans drawn by architect Lawrence Witkowski include a roofed farmers market, an open air amphitheater and a building that can be used as a convention and educational center.

Most of the 30 people at the meeting were interested in the amphitheater, which would seat 1,000 to 2,500.

Philip Morris, executive director of the Chautauqua County Association for the Arts, said the facility could offer entertainment that would complement Chautauqua Institution, the Civic Center in Jamestown and Fredonia State College.

"The amphitheater will lend vibrancy to the area. Chautauqua County has been known for arts for over 100 years," he said.

Morris suggested that four "name acts" could be accommodated each year, with other regional events and local groups for the rest of the season from May 1 to Sept. 30.

He said the facility would need to be non-profit, with sponsors when necessary. The Arts Council is interested in managing it.

The key to the development is a proposed 13,000-square-foot building, which has been called the "City Center."

City grantsman Julia Fairchild said the building could accommodate traveling science exhibits, include classrooms for various programs and be used as a convention center. A feasibility study will be needed to determine the proper mix of uses to make the project economically viable.

The original idea was to use the building as a youth center. City officials have been meeting with school officials to collaborate on the possible construction of such a center on district-owned land.

Questions were asked about the financing and management of the City Center, but city officials provided no specific answers.

"The project is conceptual and evolving," Mayor Margaret Wuerstle explained.

The meeting attracted members of the Common Council, Dunkirk Industrial Development Agency, the Chautauqua County Legislature, Planning Board, Dunkirk Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, Zoning Board of Appeals and Chautauqua Opportunities Inc.

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