The Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development (CCDPD) is significantly expanding its understanding of the County’s 42 municipalities.
In the past year, the department actively visited 10 communities, including Falconer, Forestville, Bemus Point, Mina, Cassadaga, Lakewood, Silver Creek, Carroll, Sherman, and Clymer, as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance local insights and support community development.
Rebecca Wurster, Planning Coordinator for Chautauqua County feels that, “these visits are an opportunity for our relatively young team to get to know local leaders, and for them to get to know us.”
As an entity that oversees programs and activities aimed at improving the community, economy and quality of life in Chautauqua County, the Department of Planning and Development finds great value in these visits. Wurster adds, “We see this as an excellent opportunity to broaden our base of knowledge and awareness, while strengthening communication and collaboration between the County and its municipalities.”
Mark Geise, who manages the Department of Planning & Development in his role as Deputy County Executive for Economic Development, said, “we have an outstanding and young staff of professionals in the Department of Planning & Development. I am pleased that they took it upon themselves to meet with important municipal stakeholders to discuss projects and forge long-lasting and meaningful relationships, which is essential in the economic development world.”
During each visit, CCDPD staff sat down with local elected officials, engaged with business owners and nonprofits, and toured a variety of completed, in-progress, and aspirational projects.
Local leaders embraced this opportunity to shed light on everything from their village hall and public works departments to parks, waterways and trails; the staple businesses serving their community, as well as new business ventures filling once-vacant storefronts; housing, transportation, and reuse of industrial sites; renewable energy sites and conservation of farmland; and initiatives to promote the local community and celebrate its history and landmarks.
After a memorable visit to the Village of Sherman and exchanging dialogue and ideas with a group of local business owners, Mayor Colleen Meeder reached out to say, “I appreciate all of you taking the time to visit Sherman. I believe it is energizing the businesses too – that Sherman is getting noticed.”
Local leaders shared successes and aspirations, and spoke honestly about their community’s needs and shortfalls. CCDPD responded by identifying places where it could fill in gaps.
Outcomes that have already come to fruition include granting economic development funding, initiating conceptual design work, offering guidance with comprehensive plan updates, and facilitating connections to consultants that can best serve the community.
Aimee Rogers of Imagine Forestville expressed gratitude for the occasion, saying “We appreciate that you thought enough of us to come talk to us personally. That alone meant so much! How patiently you listened to us and were interested and engaged in our ideas and allowing us to show you around the hamlet that we love.”
Getting to know each municipality and its dedicated leaders has been an energizing first step towards building stronger connections and moving priority initiatives along.
The Department of Planning and Development anticipates visiting 10 more municipalities in 2024.