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Dunkirk mayor reviews upcoming changes

DUNKIRK – Plans to replace Dunkirk’s seawall and improve the harbor were among the accomplishments cited by Mayor A.J. Dolce gave his annual State of the City address Friday afternoon in Dunkirk High School.

Dolce said the city will receive more than $750,000 in combined grant funding to replace the seawall and complete new projects at the harbor.

The construction will start this year on the seawall along Lake Front Boulevard.

The new construction on the boulevard will include a bicycle path, new restrooms, foot showers for people coming off of the sandy beach, playground equipment, a splash pad and a grand entrance to the beach area.

“The seawall and changes will make this not just an improvement for the beach, but a destination for families,” Dolce said.

He also reviewed the events that resulted in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announcing that the NRG Energy Plant would be converted to natural gas.

Dolce said the project will start this year and he expects the city to see new construction jobs as well as more stability for employees of the former coal-fired energy plant.

He also said work with the Northern Chautauqua Water District is expected to be continuing this year.

The city will be the primary supplier for residents in the north county area. Dolce said that already $10 million has been invested in improvements at the water treatment plant and more upgrades are expected in the future.

Dolce said city leaders will continue to work with federal government officials in the wake of an audit of money spent out of previous Community Development Block Grant funds. He said that he believes the city will have to pay more than $100,000 back to HUD for grants provided in past years that were labeled as “inappropriate” by federal auditors.

Dolce said the city and HUD officials are still determining a final number and that a payback proposal will be announced soon.

Future issues also highlighted by the mayor included the study of a possible consolidation of the city’s fire stations.

He said the study will start in April and is expected to take about six months.

The mayor said he looks forward to more public-private ventures like the recent Atwater Warehouse project announced for Roberts Road. The plan is to convert the former city-owned property to a private businesses. 

He said early talks are being conducted with a developer interested in the former Al-Tech site on Brigham Road and he is hopeful that the waterfront site on Lake Shore Boulevard will be developed in partnership with Fredonia State College.

The college has an application in to build a science building and research laboratory on the land and to use the harbor as a docking station for a research vessel.