By working to restore the City of Jamestown as an important center of community activity, Gebbie hopes to positively impact the local economy and quality of life for residents of the city and the region. Redevelopment of the city can also help to reduce sprawl and preserve the integrity of surrounding landscapes that contribute to Chautauqua County’s identity as a beautiful place to visit and live.
Chadakoin River Renewal – Community Jewel
Have you been to the Chadakoin River in Jamestown? Few people are aware of its presence, yet others enjoy fishing there, walking along the Riverwalk, and kayaking in its waters. Jamestown’s beginnings and early prosperity were due to the ability of early industries to harness power from its rapids and transport goods to numerous communities along connecting waterways to Pennsylvania. Community leaders are working to return the Chadakoin to a position of central importance for Jamestown’s recovery.
Recommendations from both the 2006 Jamestown Urban Design Plan and its 2019 update, Jamestown Urban Design Plan 2.0, stressed the importance of increasing access to the river for community and economic development. To that end, community partners worked together to improve the Riverwalk by increasing access to the river with a walkway from Second Street and connecting the northern and southern shores with two pedestrian bridges. There is much more work to do.
With grants from the Gebbie Foundation and the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Roger Tory Peterson Institute staff researched and developed a bathymetric study (study of the river bottom) of the Chadakoin from McCrea Point to “the Basin” (the wider area of water across from the National Comedy Center). The purpose of the study was to determine what impediments to small motorized watercraft might exist. As a result of the study, we learned that boat travel is possible with the removal of logs and other minor obstructions.
Community partners developed the Chadakoin River Strategic Business Plan in 2021 with many planned initiatives:
- Removing obstacles to boat travel, such as submerged or semi-submerged logs and spikes
- Installing a safety boom and trash catchment system above the Warner Dam (under downstream pedestrian bridge)
- Developing an evacuation plan should boaters capsize and be stranded at the safety boom
- Developing boat docking facilities in the basin
- Installing a buoy system to distinguish the boat channel
- Development of parking near the basin and/or just upstream of the Narrows
- Widening or deepening of the Narrows to mitigate navigability during high-water events
- A kayak launch
- Boat docks
- Tiered seating
- Signature gardens
- Visitor kiosk
As evidenced by the success of Canalside in Buffalo and countless other cities throughout the world, increasing public access to waterfronts improves livability for residents, draws tourists and encourages retail development. Jamestown is in the beginning stages of returning the Chadakoin to its position of importance to the people and the economy of the city.
“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
In 2019, the structure of Potter’s Terrace, a vacant wooden park in downtown Jamestown, was found to be unstable. Gebbie saw this as an opportunity to not only secure the structure, but to create an attractive parklet in downtown with plenty of greenspace. Through the support of the Gebbie Foundation, JRC constructed a high-quality outdoor parklet in downtown Jamestown. To ensure the space was designed in an appealing but cost-effective way, they hired Leaf + Stone Architecture. JRC also collaborated with the City to secure additional funding for the project. A ribbon cutting was held in November 2022 to celebrate the new Potter’s Terrace.
For almost a decade, a vacant space on Third and Cherry was underutilized waiting for the right tenant to move in. Gebbie worked closely with Wellman Building Management to secure a long-term lease at this downtown space for CHQ Plus, a retailer selling local goods made by community members. Gebbie granted funds and worked closely with The Resource Center to create CHQ Plus which is staffed by clients in the workforce development training program. Our work resulted in the creation of a space for entrepreneurs and local makers to display their creations. A ribbon cutting was held on November 18, 2022, to celebrate the grand opening.
CHQ Plus continues to make it their mission to highlight businesses that are owned or operated by people with disabilities. Two of the top selling vendors at CHQ Plus so far have been disability owned businesses. Additionally, 12 people with disabilities have worked at the store to enhance their employment skills.
Downtown Building and Business Incentives
Through a grant to the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC), Gebbie Foundation invests in building and business incentive programs within downtown Jamestown. Specifically, JRC provides grants to business and property owners to complete renovation projects and relocation in the downtown core, an area that has been identified to include 2nd and 3rd Streets from Washington Street to the Spire Theater. For information on these programs, please refer to their website at www.jamestownrenaissance.org or contact JRC at 716-664-2477.
Northwest Arena Development
Next Chapter for the Arena
The Gebbie Foundation’s Board of Directors has committed $3.9 million to the Arena for the infill construction project that will maximize the use and earning potential of the facility. During the first phase of the project, a 3-story addition was built on the underutilized patio on the south side of the building, allowing for the construction of office and exhibit space to lease to organizations that includes the National Comedy Center. Additionally, there is an updated arena club, atrium, boardroom, and rooftop patio.
The second phase of the project will include the development of TheZone, a year-round sports-themed activity center for youth. TheZone will incorporate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) principles while giving young people the opportunity to explore a wide variety of sports activities. TheZone advances the Arena’s mission to serve children, both local and visiting, by promoting physical activity through the creation of a much-needed recreation option for the community. It will also help to create a critical mass of appeal and a source of civic pride for downtown Jamestown.
With the hiring of a new Program Director for TheZone and a lot of work from the staff at Northwest Arena, TheZone has gained a lot of exposure and significant funding. They recently worked with the NYS BOCES CoSer Program, so all schools in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus County can be reimbursed a percentage for their students to engage in imaginative play at TheZone once it is completed.
Impact on Community
When the idea of constructing an ice arena became a reality in 2002, community stakeholders hoped the addition of the new facility would spark a change in the distressed west-end of the city. The Arena has accomplished this and much more generating over 250,000 turnstile visits per year, spurring the development of a hotel (La Quinta in 2018) and drawing thousands to our city to participate in hockey tournaments, attend comedy shows and a variety of other events.
Still looming from the effects of the pandemic, JCCDC has faced many challenges. With the hire of a new Marketing and Events Director, JCCDC boosted their social media presence and has seen a significant increase in public skate and bumper car attendance. They also adjusted hours for curling leagues to increase the number of teams to 60 and saw the return of the Grapes and Hops festival that exceeded attendance projections!