MOU signed for Central Connection

Monday October 29, 2018Roger Coda
President Virginia Horvath, flanked by Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis, Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, sign documents that formaliz
President Virginia Horvath (center), flanked by Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis and Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, sign documents that formalize Central Connection. Joining the ceremony are Vice President for Advancement, Engagement and Economic Development Kevin Kearns and Dunkirk Director of Planning and Development Rebecca Yanus.

The university, the Village of Fredonia and the City of Dunkirk are working together to advance an economic development plan, Central Connection, that will serve as a road map for investment and development along Central Avenue, the major thoroughfare that links the campus, the village and the central business district and lakefront in Dunkirk.

Technical assistance and consulting services for Central Connection were provided by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute and funded by a New York State Consolidated funding application grant through the Empire State Development Corporation.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by President Virginia Horvath and the mayors of Fredonia, Dr. Athanasia Landis, and Dunkirk, Willie Rosas, on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at Lanford House, home of the president.

Central Connection provides a vision for investment in new projects along the Central Avenue corridor. Its goals include raising awareness of the unique assets of campus, village and city; enhancing area tourism and building lasting partnerships through co-branding initiatives that bring the three entities closer together.

A steering committee is meeting to identify mutually beneficial projects and priorities that are consistent with the goals of the roadmap. Committee members include Dr. Horvath, Dr. Landis, Mr. Rosas, Fredonia Vice President for Advancement, Engagement and Economic Development Kevin Kearns, Dunkirk Director of Planning and Development Rebecca Yanus and Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation Community Economic Development Specialist Nathan Aldrich.

Dunkirk and the village have successfully competed for New York State Smart Growth grants to support downtown revitalization initiatives, including priorities identified in the Central Connection roadmap.

In 2017, Dunkirk received a $2.5 million Smart Growth grant that is focused on improvements along the harbor front, downtown Dunkirk and Central Avenue. Improvements will include Central Connection banners and maps, signage, road work and bike lanes. The village also recently received a $2.5 million Smart Growth grant to enhance the historic village downtown area. Improvements will focus on renovations to the 1891 Fredonia Opera House, as well as street scape improvements along Temple and Water streets surrounding Barker Commons.

Together the smart growth grants will improve and connect communities, revitalize downtown areas, enhance the quality of life for residents, attract tourism and facilitate economic growth.

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