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City bid for $400,000 grant aired

There were no speakers Wednesday during the second public hearing on a $400,000 federal grant application for a Main Street building that would anchor downtown development.

The hearing before Mayor Jeffrey Pond and the City Council featured a presentation from Matt Bull, director for the city's Industrial Development Agency, which owns the former auto dealership at 20 Main.

The agency purchased the building last year from the Salvation Army. It is now occupied by the recently formed Salamanca Area Senior Center and used for community socials and dinners.

The grant would be used to rehabilitate space at the rear of the building for use by senior citizens, providing them with meeting and exercise rooms, offices, a kitchen lounge and a rear entrance from a new parking lot put in place last year.

Installation of an elevator would provide access to the center and to the second floor, where studies have suggested the development of four apartments.

The Main Street entrance and first-floor space would be converted into a visitor center or incubator space for arts or commercial use.

The project is estimated to cost $800,000. The $400,000 grant, coupled with $200,000 the IDA has on hand, would cover part of the cost. The IDA would probably have to borrow the balance of $200,000.

Money from the $400,000 grant application and a second grant application for $200,000 would enhance the Ray Evans Seneca Theater, just a few doors away on Main Street.

As much as $60,000 would be used for improvements outside the 1940s art deco theater, and $140,000 would be used on the interior.

Studies have indicated the theater needs stage and auditorium improvements, stage lighting, rigging, electrical systems and sound systems.

Bull said the grant "will be used to establish the theater as a downtown anchor by improving its theatrical and production systems to accommodate film and live performances."

Matching funds of $210,000 would be required for the project.

Bull said the Council will vote on both grant applications April 14. The applications are due two days later.

During a brief business meeting Wednesday, the Council approved a five-year contract with the state Unified Court System to March 31, 2014, for security services for the new courtroom.

Pond announced that the urgent care center contract with Hamot Medical Center of Erie, Pa., will be signed and that the facility, at 115 Min St., should open by May 1. The opening would culminate three years of negotiations by Pond.

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