Gowanda Projects Receive Funding

LITTLE VALLEY – Two projects submitted to the Cattaraugus County Legislature have received funds requested, but not without controversy on the floor of the legislative chamber.

Legislators made a trip to the village of Gowanda to personally see the projects as they stand, and talk to people about visions, as well as undisclosed information coming to some legislators’ attention. One project would have the former Peter Cooper glue factory site – situated along the Cattaraugus Creek, a doorway to Zoar Valley – turned into a park complete with scenic overlooks, green space to picnic and play games, as well as access to some of what is considered to be the best inland fishing in the region.

The Gowanda Area Redevelopment Corporation submitted proposal to the county economic development committee to be able to access casino revenue funds to help in turning the former industrial brownfield into a natural scenic draw. The proposal would have those funds, $203.952, go toward helping out the transformation.

Susan Labuhn, D-Salamanca, District 9 legislator, said she would like to take the proposal back to the economic development committee for just one meeting to discuss concerns that she developed toward the project. That motion was seconded by William Sprague, D-Yorkshire, District 4 legislator.

Before the vote to deny an additional day in legislative committee, James Snyder, R-Olean, District 10 legislator, said the project is a good one and should not be delayed for another minute, much less two weeks to go back to committee.

Questions on ownership issues came from Richard Lamberson, D-Allegany, representing District 7. Some work on the project site had been done by county shared services agreement. Lamberson said he wanted ownership of any of the completed project finalized. According to County Attorney Tom Brady, no such ownership would exist. The services were provided as it would be for any other municipality.

After the motion to send the resolution back to committee failed by a roll call vote, the resolution to approve the funds for the project were approved by a similar voice vote. According to the resolution, the funds would be disbursed in payments, as directed by the county administrator.

A second resolution regarding the village of Gowanda would help in the restoration of the Hollywood Theater, an iconic theater situated on West Main Street. The theater has been under renovation by Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater, Ltd., a 501(c)3 that is directing the renovation of the facility back to its 1926 design. The current funding would go toward repairs to the HVAC and duct work throughout the building.

Once renovated, it is expected that the theater would be able to offer jobs to the area, as well as be a part of Gowanda’s and Cattaraugus County’s heritage sites, as well as offering leverage for the group to apply for and receive more grant funding from other sources. The resolution calls for funding of $104,388 toward this renovation.