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ROUTE 16 DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES DISCUSSED

Conclusions of a study to gauge economic development perspectives of residents and business owners in the Route 16 corridor between Yorkshire and Olean will offer only a "snapshot" of current goals and improvement objectives.

"People come and go, people age, people change and events change communities," Margaret Erwin of EastWest Planning & Development, Inc. explained Monday night.

Nearly 70 residents of the corridor's communities participated in a two-hour discussion and small-group goal-setting session at the Franklinville Central School, led by Cattaraugus County staff members and a consulting team from EastWest.

Ms. Erwin said additional comments will be accepted before and after the team's final report to the county Legislature Dec. 3. She urged those attending to continue talking to their neighbors about the issues raised and to expect divergent opinions and new ideas.

Participants from neighboring communities formed small groups to prioritize goals and devise strategies for possible implementation.

Several themes for promoting community development were repeated by the groups, including a desire to enlarge community infrastructure in the areas of water, sewer and natural gas; improving the Route 16 highway condition; improved zoning measures; protecting the water supply; and sustaining agriculture and other existing businesses.

Also cited were creating new jobs, enhancing tourism-based businesses, seeking coexistence with the abundant gravel mining operations located in the corridor, creating tax incentives and tax breaks and revitalizing communities' appearance.

Yorkshire Town Supervisor Donald W. French, reporting goals listed by the group representing Yorkshire, Freedom and Machias, called for a cleanup of "junk yard type businesses" and said industrial parks can be a tool to boost the economy by creating a home for small shops.

"We've had industrial park people come to us (in Yorkshire). I think it's a must, and it can help us," French said.

Members of the Franklinville, Farmersville and Lyndon group said they would like to see more parking and a revitalized downtown area. An opportunity was also noted to promote business development through expanded use of the railroad line for industrial shipping.

One participant said he did not think it was fair to reach conclusions based on goals listed at the meeting from so few representatives of the corridor.

Planners will place a draft of the final report at town halls in the Route 16 corridor in November, requesting further comments. Results of written surveys and input gathered in several community meetings and individual contacts will be used to prepare the final report.

Ms. Erwin told the group that about 500 survey responses were returned, with the majority of those from residents and equaling about 1 percent of the population, which is considered to be statistically significant.

Other responses to slightly different surveys in the areas of business and agriculture were returned in smaller numbers and are considered anecdotal.

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