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VOTES EXPECTED ON AIDING DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

The Common Council is expected to vote on helping two proposed developments with funding and other assistance when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Municipal Building.

Aldermen discussed both items at last Tuesday night's round of meetings, which began with a public hearing on the Community Development Department's request to apply for a $200,000 grant from the Governor's Office for Small Cities.

The money under the small cities economic development program would replenish the city's community development block grant revolving loan fund, which has dwindled to about $50,000.

The Loan Fund Committee intends to use the $200,000 for a low-interest loan to Paul and Lisa Marra of AFPM, owners of Pasta Luigi Restaurant.

The money would provide about half the public-sector financing for the couple's proposed $1.5 million convention, conference and banquet center to be built later this year on eight acres in the Empire Zone on Constitution Avenue.

The Empire Zone and Southern Tier West's Planning and Development Agency would provide additional public funds for the development, in which the Marras personally would invest $1 million.

Construction of the 16,600 square-foot center, which would seat about 600 people, would retain 10 employees and add up to 20 jobs.

The couple hopes eventually to expand to 25,000 square feet.

Mary George, the Community Development Department's program coordinator, said the city was optimistic about receiving the grant, which the economic development staff has asked the city to seek.

"There's never any guarantee, but we feel positive it's good project," she said.

City officials will submit an advance application to state authorities next week, and the Council would have to give final approval if the grant is awarded.

The Marras' payments on the loan would go into the revolving fund to assist other businesses.

The Council also is expected to vote on supporting a tax-credit incentive plan to aid fund-raising efforts of the 20-year-old Parent Education Program, a nonprofit agency providing child and family counseling that is converting a former retail building at 234-242 N. Union St. into offices.

The agency plans to spend $612,000 to remodel the facility and upgrade the facade.

Tom Potter, the agency's founder and director, said Empire Zone certification makes it eligible for the tax-credit incentives, which must be approved first by the city and then by the state.

Under that program, donors who contribute money to a $100,000 capital fund-raising campaign can take tax credits equaling 25 percent of donation.

The same procedure recently was authorized for the YMCA's fund-raising campaign for its new facility, which has been described as a success.

The Parent Education Program's project also is supported with $400,000 in civic facility revenue bonds issued by the Cattaraugus County Industrial Revenue Agency and exempt from property taxes.

Twenty-two counselors and staff work at the new site, and plans call for hiring seven more.

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