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Land Bank Releases Report

“A year of collaboration,” is how the executive director for the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. summarized 2019.

On Wednesday, the land bank held its annual meeting, with Gina Paradis, land bank executive director, presenting the 2019 Annual Report to the board. On Friday, Paradis told The Post-Journal that last year was a year highlighted by collaborations with several community partners from county municipalities to other housing organizations to local residents.

“We’re trying to bring a lot of housing agencies, stakeholders and partners together to enhance the effectiveness of all of our efforts to maximize our efforts,” she said. “I think we will see more collaborative projects this upcoming year between the land bank and other entities.”

One collaboration the land bank will be partnering with in 2020 is the Healthy Housing Task Force. Paradis said one of the main goals of the Health Housing Task Force is to curtail the impact of lead paint in the old housing stock found throughout the county, especially in the cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown. The county ranks high among all counties in the state in lead poisoning levels in children, which leads to adverse health effects.

“I talked about our efforts to become more involved in the lead abatement program,” Paradis said. “So we are working on the Healthy Housing Task Force. We’re trying to do more to impact lead levels in the county.”

Another collaboration Paradis talked about is the work the land bank has done in neighborhoods in the city of Jamestown, which is the focus of the Jamestown Renaissance Corp. Renaissance Block Challenge. Paradis said the land bank renovated four houses in the Renaissance Block Challenge target area.

“We are really excited to share that,” Paradis said.

Last year, the JRC started Renaissance Block Challenge 2.0, which will focus on the east side area of the city around Allen Park and UPMC Chautauqua for a total of five years. Property owners in the target area who want to participate in the block challenge needed to form a neighborhood cluster with a minimum of five property owners that can include homeowners, landlords and businesses. Each property was eligible for a match up to $2,000 to facilitate exterior home improvement projects. Projects funded in the program include painting, porch repair, soffit repair, sidewalk repair, new mailboxes, exterior lighting, front-yard landscaping, front doors/windows, driveways, driveway aprons and gutters.

Aside from matching grant funding, participating homeowners have access to discounts from sponsoring hardware stores and garden centers as well as discounts on coordinated purchasing of materials, services and design. For more information about the JRC program, visit jamestownrenaissance.org.

For more information about the annual report, visit chqlandbank.org.

In other land bank business, the board voted on its officers for 2020. The board will remain the same as it was in 2019, with Jim Caflisch as chairman; Diane Hannum as vice chairwoman; Nicole May as secretary; Bill Carlson as treasurer; Hugh Butler as assistant secretary; and Mark Geise as assistant treasurer.

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