The executive directors of the Community Foundation and Gebbie Foundation made pleas to Jamestown City Council to move forward with American Rescue Plan funding.
Chautauqua Region Community Foundation Executive Director Tory Irgang, speaking to Council, reminded them how CRCF helped compile the community feedback from public information sessions held in 2021 on how to use the ARPA funds.
She said it’s easy to adopt a “scarcity mindset,” “A time when partnerships and collaborations can be mistaken as weakness. However, we have proven in this community what can happen when we have an abundance mindset. We work through public, private partnerships every day to achieve tremendous results. And I encourage each of you to lean into that shared experience by aligning the remaining ARPA funding with community-based projects that have significant leveraging opportunities.”
Irgang said projects that had been evaluated and awarded other funding from government and philanthropic sources should be considered, “Projects that provide infrastructure and programming for children and young adults, projects that yield measurable results, deliver significant community benefit, and address challenges that are multi-faceted. As we know all too well in philanthropy, our needs are always greater than our resources, but we can meet so many more needs when we collaborate and work together.”
Gebbie Foundation CEO Greg Edwards said the city has been very successful at finding partners in its mission over the last 20 years, “Over the last 20 years, many times not-for-profits have willingly stepped up and the public-private entities have stepped up because they had seen how valuable our joint mission was and invested dramatically in trying to impact the future of the city in ways we could spend a great deal of time tonight celebrating this partnership between the city and these entities.”
Edwards encouraged funding for TheZone project at the Northwest Arena. He said the Gebbie Foundation has provided nearly $4 million in funding for that project. He also encouraged Council to support the new Jamestown YMCA project on Harrison Street.
Council member Marie Carrubba asked what the plans were for the current YMCA location on East Fourth Street.
Edwards replied that the 1929 structure is complicated with the Housing and Urban Development contract for housing that remains in place for at least 13 years, “But there have been significant conversations around how that could actually be a plus to other redevelopments potentially around the city and how that building itself could be reused. I had a conversation two months ago with a private developer who was interested in turning it into what we’ll call higher end housing because it does come with some amenities that other buildings don’t. I mean, having the gyms, the pools, those sorts of things that does provide opportunities, call it built in, that make it interesting.”
Council Member at Large Jeff Russell voiced support for a new YMCA facility.
Any funding for the projects mentioned by Edwards would possibly receive funding from the proposed Non-Profit Assistance Program. A resolution to fund that program with $1.5 million in ARP funds is still awaiting Council action.
Council member Andrew Faulkner questioned how much the 19A Home Ownership program could be funded with and still be successful. Director of Development Crystal Surdyk said $500,000 would be the absolute minimum. The current proposal is requesting $750,000.
Council member at large Russell asked why the city would contract with the Chautauqua County Land Bank for $1 million, of which 20% goes to administrative fees, when the city could do home demolitions itself.
Surdyk said $500,000 of the funds requested by the Land Bank would go to contractors to do the demolition work, with administration fees going to administer that program.
She said while the DOD can administer demolitions, as it has done in the past, there are now over 16 new programs the department is now administering on top of existing programs, “To administer effectively the demolition program and these and new grant programs that we have received over the last year, it’s just not feasible without hiring new staff, specifically to do demolition. So, we can contract with the Land Bank at a roughly 20% administrative fee which would ultimately be less than what we’d have to pay to employ somebody as a city employee.”
The Finance Committee tabled the resolutions related to funding the Chautauqua County Land Bank and 19A Home Ownership Program until the November 14 work session.
And DPW Director Jeff Lehman reported that leaf pickup is ahead of schedule with Phase 2 already underway this week. He said crews do plan to go back through the city again after the completion of Phase 2 to try to pick up any piles of leaves that were missed the first time.