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The board of directors of the Dunkirk Local Development Corp. is considering whether to privatize the agency, eliminating board seats for public officials.

Currently the mayor is president of the board, and the Council member at large and one Council member are voting members.

Nicholas W. Monafo, executive director of the Lackawanna Community Development Corp., described the operations of that agency, which began as a public entity and later became private.

He said the corporation began in 1979 with funds from both the city and Bethlehem Steel Corp., and city officials sat on the board of directors. Later, the agency became private, with the city withdrawing both its funding and its officials.

In the meantime, Lackawanna formed a housing corporation. Now both are under the aegis of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The Lackawanna development agency currently has six employees and an annual budget of $500,000. More recently, the housing agency has been building subsidized housing that is sold to low- and moderate-income buyers and has been purchasing homes for rehabilitation.

"We have a strong board that works. No one is a devil's advocate," said Monafo.

Also attending the meeting were Jill Casey, a community builder with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Rebecca Condon, coordinator of the Dunkirk/Sheridan Empire Development Zone. Casey noted that Dunkirk is also an entitlement community for federal funds for such projects as housing.

On another matter, the Common Council's Economic Development Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss progress on filling the agency's deputy directorship. Also Mayor Robert Kesicki, president of the agency board, will schedule a meeting to further discuss privatization of the agency.

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