Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello, R-Hanover, thinks the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency could do more to make public documents “user-friendly” — and the rest of the CCIDA Board of Directors seems to agree.
At the board meeting Tuesday morning, held at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator in Dunkirk, Borrello asked for a few moments of his colleagues’ time before they headed into executive session.
“There’s something I want to bring up,” said Borrello. “We’ve all witnessed meetings and public hearings (where) we’ve sensed the public’s frustration at times. I have been contacted by quite a few people, most recently with the process of the public hearing here in Dunkirk for the Great Lakes Cold Storage (project).
“I’d really like to recommend that we make some changes to the way public hearings are conducted — not the public hearings themselves, but the (procedures) leading up to the hearing.”
Borrello acknowledged that yes, the CCIDA follows the rules when it comes to the requirements of the federal and state governments with publishing and posting public hearings, but CCIDA officials could be doing more to ensure that the public has access to the information that affects them and their neighborhoods.
“We’re meeting those minimum requirements, but I think we should … post all of the relevant materials online on the CCIDA website so that people can easily go there, well in advance, and view it, whether it’s site maps or other relevant information, and (see it there), so they don’t have to drive to Jamestown (for it).”
Borrello said that neighboring counties, like Erie and Monroe, post their documents on their websites. Why can’t the CCIDA do that, too?
And, Borrello noted, for those who do not have access to computers, paper copies can still be kept in Jamestown and also at the incubator in Dunkirk.
“We need to make things more user-friendly, and we need to make it a little more transparent,” Borrello stressed. “This board, and this IDA, is doing great work. We have fantastic things going on, and I don’t want to see us get bogged down in these issues that create a bad image, and unnecessarily so.”
Borrello brought up the cold storage facility again, which was going to be built in the city of Dunkirk, but now will allegedly move to the town of Sheridan.
“While I understand that there were people against the Great Lakes Cold Storage facility in that residential neighborhood (in Dunkirk), I don’t think they had the opportunity to see what those plans were, what (the developer) was proposing, as far as the park and a berm and the other things. And I’m not saying that was the right place (for the facility), but I am saying that people need to have that information readily available, and I think we have a responsibility to easily get it into those folks’ hands.”
Kevin Sanvidge, CCIDA CEO, said he looks at Borrello’s idea “in the spirit of continuous improvement,” and that if the CCIDA has been doing things “the same way since 1971, it’s probably the wrong way.” He added that he appreciated Borrello’s comments, and that it’s important to be transparent because the CCIDA has “nothing to hide.”
Chief Financial Officer Richard Dixon said the CCIDA can start that document-sharing practice now, since the process is administrative in nature and does not require a motion. He said documents will be posted after the board “makes the preliminary resolution.”
“I’d hate to put them (online) before the board actually votes, in case something happens and (the subject) gets pulled (from the agenda), so we’ll wait until the day after the board meeting, and then post all of those documents. I think that’s a good idea,” he said.
No action was taken on the Great Lakes Cold Storage facility Tuesday; the matter was pulled from the agenda before the meeting started.