Heenan Declines To Talk District Issues

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 19th in a series of articles highlighting major issues facing each of the 19 Chautauqua County districts and the legislators presiding over them.

Shaun Heenan is one of six Democrats in the new Chautauqua County Legislature.

His district is bordered by Districts 1, 4 and 5 with respective representatives Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Janet Keefe, D-Fredonia; and Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan.

These four districts share several major issues spanning along the northern part of the county including the potential establishment of a regional water district, debate over future ownership of the Chautauqua County Home and the recently announced repowering of Dunkirk’s NRG Plant.

After several repeated attempts, Heenan declined to discuss his district and the issues within its borders.

There is potential in District 2 for economic development at the former Edgewood Warehouse, Alumax and Roblin Steel sites on South Roberts Road.

Roberts Road Redevelopment Corporation, which is composed of county representatives, was formed after the county acquired the property in 2009. Since then, a request for proposal was issued and a new developer, Atwater Capital LLC of Boca Raton, Fla., came forward.

“We are now in the final stages of getting a land disposition agreement signed between Roberts Road Development and Atwater Capital,” said Bill Daly, CEO of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, adding that Atwater plans to expand and add buildings on the east side of the remaining Edgewood building.

Dunkirk also received a grant from Empire State Development in the amount of $2.5 million to encourage community development and neighborhood growth.

“That will help in this project,” Daly said. “This is a great cooperative effort between the county, the city of Dunkirk and New York state.”

In terms of other projects in Heenan’s district, the Millennium Parkway is currently under construction.

When complete, it will connect Route 60 at Maple Avenue in Dunkirk to take tractor-trailer traffic to Roberts Road and beyond, eliminating much of the city’s semi traffic.

“We’re excited to see Millenium Parkway being repurposed,” said Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, adding that the road will be wider with updated sewer and water lines.

In terms of the future of the County Home, Heenan has voted against the sale three times and will most likely vote again to keep it under county ownership, seeing as how many constituents in the north county are against its privatization.

In the third vote, nine legislators voted against the sale of the County Home to VestraCare at a cost of $16.5 million.

However, a special meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 5 to discuss another potential offer from VestraCare. Only 13 votes are needed in order for the nursing home to be privatized. This translates to a two-thirds vote.