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Dunkirk Common Council opts to cut its losses on Lake Shore Drive property

DUNKIRK – The City of Dunkirk denied a request to transfer funds to make a $50,000 mortgage payment on property owned by the local development corporation at the regular meeting of the Common Council on Tuesday in City Hall.

The default on the mortgage payment for 18 Lake Shore Drive West may mean that the local development corporation will lose the building and lot located in the harbor area.

Council Member William Rivera led the regular meeting Tuesday following the unexpected resignation of Council Member-at-large Stephanie Kiyak. Rivera said he hoped the city would reach out to the mortgage holder for the property.

“Right now I feel we are throwing good money after bad,” he said.

The Dunkirk Local Development Corp. asked the city to make the payment.

Mayor A.J. Dolce said the city has already invested about $350,000 in the property for mortgage payments and another $150,000 to pave the parking lot area.

“The only hope we have for recouping any funds would be for the city to retain the title,” said Dolce.

The property was formerly the location of the Dutch Bertges auto dealership.

Council Member Stacy Szukala said that she approved making the payment on the property last year because she had hoped the property would be marketed and sold.

“With the long list of things we have to do in the city, I think our priorities need to be elsewhere and I do not support this resolution,” said Szukala.

She said she could not support making another payment when there has been no interest in developing the property.

Also at the meeting:

• Dolce said a drive would be held to raise money to build an enclosure over the Whispering Giant statue located on the city’s waterfront. The statue was rededicated recently when sculptor Peter Wolf Toth came to repair and renovate it. Dolce said the city hopes to raise enough funds to enclose the statue by fall. The statue is one of several Native American wood carvings designed by Toth in the 1970s.

• Dolce said students at Dunkirk High School will start a morning television show that will be aired on a local cable access channel.

• The Council approved a request from Dunkirk School Superintendent Gary Cerne to provide police officers at home football games.

• Two notices of claim were received. One was from a motorist who said her vehicle was damaged by a pothole on Main Street. The second notice was from Randall Benderson and David Baldauf for a collapsed water drainage system in the parking lot of their business on Vineyard Drive in the city. Both claims were referred to the city’s legal office.

• Szukala asked for an update on training required for zoning and planning board members. City Code Enforcement Officer Al Zurawski reported that the majority of members completed courses. Szukala also asked City Police Chief David Ortolano to investigate changes to signs at Point Gratiot. She said she has found cars driving on the bicycle path and on grassy areas where vehicles are not permitted. The chief said he will look into sign requirements and possible painted lines on the bike path.

• Rivera was appointed the city representative to the Chautauqua County Water Agency, replacing Kiyak, who resigned.