Bayfront development was a hot topic, in this week's city council candidate's debate.
Specifically, what to do with the old G-A-F site, and whether taxpayers should be kicking-in for a proposed bayfront hotel.
In a special report, Kevin MacDowell has more on what the candidates were saying during the debate at the Jefferson Educational Society.
The issue will effect Erie and its economy, for years to come.
So, it was no surprise when the moderator, our own Lisa Adams, posed this question:
"Do you support the development of a taxpayer subsidized hotel on the bayfront, and is this the best plan for Erie?"
All five candidates said no.
James Winarski added, "I do want development, don't get me wrong, but we need development which will stay on our tax rolls and be a benefit both on the baytfront and in the city."
Curtis Jones says, "It's prime space, we have individuals, developers, who want to invest in that space."
John Evans, is the only Republican in the group, "I don't favor building publicly funded projects, when private development is available."
Kaz Kwitowski has been Erie City Controller for the past twelve years, "If you got a private businessman who wants to put his own money into a project, why use taxpayer money."
David Brennan,"If we have a private developer, we need to do that. we need private investment, we need more tax dollars, than's what we need for that project."
Lisa then asked about the old G-A-F location, "So, the G-A-F site next to the hotel property. What is the best use for the G-A-F property?"
First up, James Winarski, "The main thing for that property is to get something down there that's going to be on the tax rolls for Erie."
But, Curt Jones says, that doesn't mean there won't be tax breaks, "We need to incentivise business which may mean tax incentives, tax breaks, LERTA, those types of programs to support development."
John Evans,"I think a combination of commercial, retail, and public space makes sense. I'm not sure that's the place for residential."
Kaz Kwitowski, "The public I talk to want to see commercial, retail. I don't buy the fact that it snows. People will go down there if they have something to go to.)
David Brennan, "We need private investment. we need it on our tax rolls, it needs to be open to the public, not a gated community, and it needs to be inspiring and a destination for Erie,)
So there you have it, five candidates running for 4 open seats on council.
Four Democrats, and one Republican.
the lone republican is john Evans.
A little bit of trivia: if Evans wins he would be the first republican elected to council since 1990.###