News, Politics, and Culture from 14895

Last glimpse of spring, by Mel Hunt

Poll Results: What to do with $4.5 million dollars in downtown Wellsville

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Read dozens of ideas submitted by voters

By Andrew Harris

Last week will go down in Wellsville history as “the” turning point.

Our long-beleagured industrial economy has been changing, improving and growing quickly. The pandemic seemed to accelerate the good economic news, if real estate sales and sales tax revenue are any indication. In that same time period quite a big of progress has occurred, click to read our previous reporting:

The former “Air-Preheater”, now Arvos/Ljungstrom, industrial facility has enjoyed a resurgence in the renewable energy market. A big HELP WANTED sign hangs at the entrance and recent graduates from high school and trade school now have a job waiting. “Runnings,” a popular department store with a rural focus is now preparing to open in the newly rehabilitated Riverwalk location left vacant by Kmart. Walgreen’s has built a new, modern “drive-thru” style store. The popular regional gas-n-go store “Quicklee’s” is all set to build a brand new store on Bolivar Road, which will include a very big deal: Tim Horton’s Coffee. To the rear of that soon-to-be-built Quicklee’s store, BSI International operates a growing engineering and manufactuaring business that has made a long-term committment to Wellsville. Just last week the good news seemed another dream come true: Kinley Corporation has started a new chapter at the former “Dresser Rand” which has been left vacant for years after a depressing, drawn-out closure. Kinley’s new business enterprise seeks to utilize the skilled labor pool that remains in Wellsville and bring the facility back to its former glory. And don’t forget about the “Old Depot!!” The railroad station that has defined Wellsville since the trains started running through the village is slated for a rehabilitation and revival. If there was ever a symbol for this narrative of a small town enjoying a resurgence, the “Old Depot,” is it.

Jones Memorial Hospital is in the midst of a generational expansion and upgrade. Fears of losing our rural hospital have faded with the partnership with the University of Rochester. The current investment is the sign of a major committment to Wellsville and Allegany county. This is essential for economic expansion.

Armstrong has recently finished major fiber optic installations all over the Southern Tier, bringing high speed internet to many of our rural locations. Also essential to economic expansion.

Allegany County government is focused on continuing this economic development trend. Millions of dollars have been earmarked for a major “build it and they will come” initiative. The county will use surplus funds to prepare a I-86 travelers dream stop: A nice hotel(think Marriott Express,) a sit down family restaurant(Johnny Lynch wants a Texas Roadhouse,) and a fast food drive-thru joint(Taco Bell.) Site work as already begun and the county plans to hire a full time economic development director in the first part of 2023.

Thanks for bearing with me. I think the litany of successes should be considered and repeated, I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention many smaller victories as well. This recent state funding award of $4.5 million dollars is a big cherry on top. To properly frame the money, it is roughly double the annual village of Wellsville budget. The impact is yet to be realized, but as Dr. Craig Clark, longtime economic development mastermind in Allegany County said:

“The true impact of this money will be much greater than $4.5 million. How this money is used could have an impact into the tens of millions.”

That was the poll question, what are the best ways to spend this giant lottery prize? So far we know that the NYS Empire Development Agency will assign the village of Wellsville a case manager of sorts. That contact will inform on process, policy, and protocol. At that point the village will likely form some sort of steering committee, perhaps based on the newly reconstituted planning board. Public input is expected to be integral to the process. So here is the first round of input from Sun readers:

In this poll, and in every conversation that I’ve had on the subject with the locals, and even in Governor Hochul’s presentation speech, the Grand Theatre is top of mind. It isn’t a surprise, the once Lin-Ray theatre has struggled in the digital home multimedia era. Now closed, chatter about how to preserve that Main Street gem will undoubtably continue. Other downtown buildings that are in need restoration, major repairs, or even demolition are also certain to be on the list. Over 15% of poll respondants ask for the youth to be considered when investing the funds, for example a splashpad/ice skating rink. Housing concerns wasn’t reflected in this poll but can’t be ignored. Low-income, senior, young professional, and average family homes are hard to come by. If we want Arvos, Runnings, Kinley, and other employers to deliver on good jobs, we will need to find places for those people to live.

The most interesting answers were the custom submissions. Over 100 respondents took the time to send a specific idea or suggestion. All serious responses are listed below, maybe a few wisecrackers too:

Senior housing/ nice villas that you don’t have to be poor to live in

Infrastructure and lot clearing of dilapidated/abandoned houses/buildings

Job’s,jobs, jobs.

Bring in manufacturing and service industry

Clean up the messes at many rental properties in town. Enforce zoning!!

Alcohol Responsible program

Drive-In Theater with food, car shows, etc

Fix the side streets and side walks

More restaurants in Wellsville

don’t save the grand theater. it’s a private business

Need shopping stores, more housing 

the homeless

Rear down eye sores houses marked with red X

Cut checks out to Wellsville residents who are struggling through this hard time

Over 60 housing not income based

Implement the redesign plans from Alfred State College architecture students

Jobs, new stores, restaurants , old time Wellsville

Wake up people! It isn’t free money!

youth splash and Island Park

More restaurants. Youth/ adult focused facilities. Provide $ for start-up business

Have a bandstand and area for farmers market similar to Alfred

Repair the roads!

Touching up all the outside businesses that need it on the outside, paint/awning

Outdoor concert venue

no roundabouts or eliminating parking spots on main st

Yes – For kids (better, warmer pool & splashpad) and lagoon area

Fix ALL sidewalks in village

re-zone area to allow big business to thrive and contribute to sales taxes

Pickle ball courts indoors and out

Help families that are struggling and losing there homes

Give it back to the over taxed people it was taken from. 

How about renovating the old municipal building & moving the village offices back

Lure industry

help the food banks

Splash pad that could also be utilized as an outdoor ice rink(dual purpose)

 pave main Street between State Street and the arterial

Open a department store like Ames

Invest in businesses . Done properly the income created by this could fund….

Walmart or Target or other department stores. No place to shop in this town.

The Railroad Depot– venue, jobs, museum, no longer crumbling on passersby

The funding of the depot would be great for the community.

Wasn’t this supposed to be used to finish the Depot project?

Clean up the blight! There is more of that than needed in 14895

Invest in bringing tourism. Tourism is vital to Wellsville and the County.

extend walk way from island park along river north to rt 417 bridge.

Community Center

Give it to towns that actually need it.

An outdoor pool and a disc golf course or two

Lagoon Fields, lights and maybe a fitness/ nature walk along the river bank

build an outdoor pool/ice skating rink

Renovate main St but incorporate incorporate something for the kids to keep them

Increase main street parking for customers

I would like a four lane from rt 86 to Wellsville. It would help out

Building a Biking trail

1. Renovate or tear down derelict buildings 2. boost current/future retail

Bring in stores of value. We have no place to buy most items unless out of town

embrace UTV/ATV traffic

Build a dog park

Brick & mortar! Business locations !

Fix main streets pavements from State Street to the arterial South side

Riverfront event venue

Update & make handicapped accessible the historic Municipal Building.

Central basketball courts. Look at portville and their courts. Used by kids/adults

Get rid of the parking meters. People shouldn’t have to pay to shop downtown

A hybrid plan of providing housing & renovating downtown and the Grand Theatre

If a splash pad is built keep Danny fronzac and company away from it

Build it and they come

Expand lighting down to the south main st business section like it is on north

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Robert D. “Bob” Willetts, 68, Wellsville

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Wendy S. Kinney, 74, Scio

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