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Olean Council seeks grants to help fund city improvements

OLEAN – With many projects on the drawing board, the City of Olean is looking to capitalize on the latest round of state funding to help bring some changes – some visible, others not so much – to residents of the city.

With the passage of resolutions Tuesday night, members of the Common Council opened the gate to pursue those avenues.

The first of such applications would help in the renovation of Bradner Stadium. The renovation plans of bleacher replacement, field renovation and aesthetics would fit under criteria established by several agencies, according to City Community Development Coordinator Mary George. The stadium has already had $1.65 million committed through a Council resolution. This project carries no local matching funds.

The second project would seek funds through the State Department of Transportation from the federal government. The program is in its last year, George said, and would provide some safety for bicyclists and pedestrians looking to get from East Olean, over the Olean Creek, to jobs and retail shopping in the rest of the city.

City officials have been looking to extend the paved recreation trail from Jamestown Community College’s Olean campus to the east. The additional trail would cross Olean Creek on either city- or railroad-owned land, crossing to the north of War Vets Park to the sidewalk along Front Street.

“We have the railroad’s support on this one,” George said. “Right now, people use the rail trestle to cross the creek. There have been quite a few close calls with people and trains, to include this past Friday. They would like to see a safe crossing as well.”

Though the project is not designed, the cost is anticipated to be around $400,00. The funding being sought would require a 20 percent local matching of funds.

Another recreation trail seeking funding would add to the Forness Park loop that will connect the newly opened Good Times of Olean to the ball fields, Bradner Stadium, connection to East State Street. The $300,000 project, should it receive additional funding, would have a 20 percent local share.

To help with the infrastructure problems on North Union Street, a grant for $1 million to $1.25 million with a 10 percent local share is being sought. The grant would aid in mandated repairs to the century-old water and sewer lines that run under the street.

The final two approvals would support NeighborWorks Home Resources in two projects. The first would offer businesses on Union Street funding for facade work, interior renovations and streetscape improvements. Property owners would have to offer a 25 percent match to receive up to $50,000.

Another proposed grant would help in the acquisition of two buildings on either side of the current Five Star Bank on North Union Street. The grant would allow for the renovation of the buildings to stabilize them, making the space economically viable. Repairs would include maintenance to the roof. The grant is a 50 percent match and is worth $150,000.

Grant applications are due to the state Economic Development Council by the end of August. Final awards are expected in late December, according to George.