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Dunkirk considers policy to make streets safer

DUNKIRK – The city of Dunkirk is in the final phases of adopting a “Complete Streets” policy. Members of the city’s public works committee met Monday and talked about goals of the policy.

Councilwoman Stacy Szukala, chairwoman of the committee, said the council members had concerns that they would be forced to make some changes that would be too costly. She was assured by Andrew Dickson, representing the Chautauqua County Health Network, that the Complete Streets programs are meant to provide safer spaces for everyone who uses streets and sidewalks. Dickson said that some changes could be done with minimal costs. He gave the example of the possibility of volunteer groups taking on beautification projects.

City Public Works Director Tony Gugino said he was anticipating that more paving and streets projects will be done this year than have been done in many years.

There is about $625,000 allocated through two years of funds through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program and another $50,000 from the annual budget. “In 10-plus years this is the best pot of funding I have seen for street improvements,” said Gugino.

Local paving work will be enhanced because NYS Department of Transportation has announced that more than eight miles on Routes 5 and 60 within the city will be repaved and striped, Gugino said. Paving projects are scheduled to start soon and last much of the summer.

Also at the meeting:

• Gugino urged residents to call when there is a large pothole in their neighborhood. He said his crews are filling potholes on the basis of “most pressing need.”

• Councilwoman Stephanie Kiyak said she will encourage residents to provide information to the city based on their own walking tours. Steve Reese from the Revitalize Dunkirk Committee said his group will conduct regular “walkability tours,” and send their reports to Gugino.

• Gugino reported that he has not received word from the state’s funding authorities that grant money will be released for the seawall replacement project. The city received grant funding to replace the seawall and add some recreational items including playground equipment at Wright Park Beach.