Dunkirk Councilman Proposes Beautification Plans For Vacant City Lots

DUNKIRK — One city councilman would like to see the city take beautification of a downtown eyesore into its own hands.

At the recent Department of Public Works Committee meeting, Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan said he had been looking into the ownership of the vacant lots across the street from city hall.

“I had inquired about the two empty lots across the street 323-325 Central Avenue that is owned by 232-325 Central Avenue LLC and also the adjacent property 335-339, which Graf Realty owns. I don’t believe we’ve approached either one, but I would like to propose that the city issue a memorandum of understanding, which is a formal agreement instead of a gentlemen’s agreement, to take into consideration for the DPW to grade those parcels, lay some top soil on them and mow them so we have a nice empty lawn over there,” he said.

Heenan said he knows there will be some concerns taking on the project.

“We don’t want to get into the liability end of it I don’t think, we don’t want to make it into a park, we don’t want it for any other use besides a beautification project. It’s on the four corners of downtown, I really only started inquiring about this today, and I know some would ask why is the city taking care of someone else’s property? Considering the eyesore that it is — I know it’s kept down, but it’s pretty much very gravelly, rocky — this would hopefully be a beautification project and hopefully in the future maybe those two parcels, the city would be able to purchase at a reasonable cost either for development or to put a pocket park there like Jamestown does,” he said.

He added making downtown look better was worth the time and money.

“I haven’t done any research on that, but maybe in the next week or two with discussion amongst ourselves or the department heads, maybe people out there might be not too happy, but they’ll understand why we’re doing it. I hope there will be a favorable outcome for everybody and, again, the biggest thing is we don’t want to be under any liability, neither would the property owners, so it would be somewhat of a gentlemen’s agreement with the memorandum of understanding, so they know we want to grade this, put down top soil, put grass seed on there and we’ll mow it throughout the summer months. I can’t imagine that mowing lot that big would take a lot of time for the workforce, but I’ll say it again, it’s more of a beautification of the downtown,” Heenan said.

There was no further discussion of the proposal at the meeting.