Celoron May Receive Money Next Year For Waterfront Project

Celoron was next in line for funding from the state’s Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. Village officials hope they aren’t left behind again.

John Keeney, Celoron mayor, said village officials have met with members of the regional council, who were the ones who determined which projects received funding this year. Village officials had applied to receive funding for a proposed waterfront revitalization project around Lucille Ball Memorial Park.

”We were two points off, and next in line for funding,” Keeney said. ”They said we didn’t write the grant well enough, and I know that isn’t true, but it is true in their minds.”

In December, it was announced the village would not be receiving any state money for a boardwalk project and for other improvements to Lucille Ball Memorial Park. The state program did award $52.8 million to 58 other projects in Western New York to improve local infrastructure and create jobs. Specific to Chautauqua County, more than $1.4 million was allocated during the second year of the Regional Economic Development Council program.

The economic development strategy was implemented for the first time in 2011. The plan created 10 regional councils, which were made up of area leaders who would determine which projects were the most vital for economic success. The councils then applied for state funding under a new consolidated funding formula, which made projects eligible for grant money and tax credits. The combined pool of funding totaled around $738 million for 2012.

Keeney said it was disappointing village officials won’t receive any money for the project this year.

”We are a community that can’t afford something like this on our own. We reached our hands out and we got turned down,” he said. ”It makes it harder and harder for communities trying to improve themselves when they get turned down.”

The village’s revitalization implementation committee decided last year the first step in a waterfront revitalization plan should be to construct a boardwalk in the park, and for other improvements. The waterfront revitalization plan stems from the $36,000 in state funding village officials received in January 2010. Since the announcement of the grant, village officials and residents have been working toward the development of the park along Chautauqua Lake. The grant was used toward a development plan for a waterfront project around Lucille Ball Memorial Park.

Keeney said village officials were instructed on how to reapply next year with a better chance of receiving funds.

”I think our name will not pass through their board without them knowing who they are talking about,” he said. ”I have a sense they will have a hard time passing up Celoron next year.”