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Which $30 Million Project Should The County Fund?

Two projects have made noise during Jamestown City Council meetings this year – a proposed $30 million YMCA building on Harrison Street and a $27 to $30 million proposal to turn Russell E. Diethrick Park into a multi-sport venue.

Each project has benefits and drawbacks. Each comes with a hefty price tag. And each is likely going to similar groups looking for funding.

Foundation board members and elected officials at the state and county levels will hear more pitches for funding in the months to come, we’re sure. We’re dubious that state government support is going to both projects as the state’s budget finds itself more and more strained from recent overspending and a loss of tax revenues. The state Budget Division estimates a $231 billion budget in 2023-24, with budget gaps in future years expected to be about $9.5 billion in 2024-25 and $7.7 billion in 2026-27. So state money isn’t guaranteed. And we know local foundations are faced with a never-ending list of needs and have a limited amount of funding to give a lot of worthy organizations and projects.

There are a lot of needs county wide, including quickly finding some sort of winter shelter for a homeless population that is growing faster than the region’s overall population.

The YMCA didn’t get nearly what it asked for from the city. But what if the city’s money wasn’t the only government money that could go into the YMCA project? We’ve been dubious about the benefits of a massive stadium project for the greater Jamestown community. Unlike JCC, Chautauqua County doesn’t have any sort of role in the YMCA. But all things being equal, it makes sense to move forward with one of the projects – and the question that needs to be asked is which $30 million project benefits more county residents: a multi-sport Russell E. Diethrick Park or a new YMCA?

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