By Jann Wiswall

Small changes can make a big impact in a place like Ellicottville, so if you haven’t been here in a few months, take note!

There’s been a lot of activity along the village streets this spring. While we’re saying goodbye to the Holiday Shoppe on Washington Street, there’s good news to go along with its departure. Dina’s restaurant is expanding into its space, adding more dining and bar space and a private dining room.

Both Hoagie’s on Monroe Street and the Burger King near Holiday Valley have closed and new tenants have not yet been announced, but everyone is eagerly awaiting the opening of the Armor Inn in the Village Center behind the Kwik Fill at Washington and Mill streets. The Hamburg-based barbeque and blues restaurant plans to open this new location by fall.

Meanwhile, two of Ellicottville’s most popular watering holes — Balloons and Madigan’s — have expanded. Balloons added a large addition and outdoor patio space to accommodate its loyal following, and Madigan’s has added a large new second-floor deck for outdoor dining and entertaining.

Four new residential communities in Ellicottville are in various stages of planning, too. At 16 Martha Street, developers are renovating two existing buildings to create a 10-unit rental apartment complex and a four-unit, two-story apartment building.

Gestion Blueberry Lake, a luxury, single-family home vacation community off Poverty Hill Road, is in the planning stages. The Canadian developers expect to break ground on infrastructure this summer.

One of Ellicottville’s most historic buildings – the 1887 Schoolhouse building at the corner of Jefferson and Washington Streets – finally has been purchased by developers who plan to restore the exterior of the building to its finest. They expect to turn the property into a 7-10 unit condominium with underground parking.

And, HoliMont’s Marketing Director Dash Hegeman reports that the infrastructure (roads, sewer, water, etc.) for its new development, WestMont Ridge, will be completed by the end of the month.  Closings on 21 of the 31 available lots for single-family homes on the property are expected to begin within the next several weeks. Plans for a new condominium building are in the permitting stages for a fall construction start.

New Events

Ellicottville is known as a festival and event destination all year long, and three new events hosted this spring likely will build on this reputation. In April, Holiday Valley hosted its first Enchanted Mountain Blue Grass Festival. The three-day event featured nightly concerts from big-name performers, daily singing and instrument workshops, jamming and many other music-making opportunities for amateurs and professionals alike.

Beginning in mid-May and extended into early June, “Night Lights at Ellicottville’s Nannen Arboretum” drew crowds to see the acres of myriad tree species bathed in colorful, enchanting lighting.

Then, on the last weekend of Night Lights, Ellicottville organizations and businesses hosted an all-out Cycling Weekend that included the remarkable Chris Clark Bicycle Stunt Show and long-distance road rides, as well as other activities that showcased the awesome bicycling opportunities for which the Ellicottville area has become known.

Summer Road Improvements

Getting to and around Ellicottville will be a bit different this summer as some necessary road construction is underway. The Southern Tier Expressway (I-86) between Salamanca and Seneca Junction is closed until fall, but the detour along Route 417 is generally passable and quite scenic. Travelers can take this opportunity to visit some of the unique shops and restaurants in the villages, towns and City of Salamanca along the way.

In the village of Ellicottville, the New York State Department of Transportation has begun work on a sidewalk project on Route 242 into Ellicottville. They’re also rebuilding the intersection at Washington, Elizabeth and Fillmore streets for safety reasons, and are improving pedestrian ramps at key intersections in the village. Traffic may be rerouted for construction at times during the summer, so watch for signs and flaggers.

Local Government and School

The area’s local governments have had a busy spring. The Town of Ellicottville has awarded bids and will begin construction of the East Tank Project, which involves constructing a large, new water tank and piping that will improve water pressure, fire safety and development opportunities throughout the town and village.

Progress is being made on the proposed extension of the Southtowns Scenic Byway, which currently connects Orchard Park, East Aurora and Springville in a 71-mile loop. A designated scenic byway is intended to “promote economic development and community pride through the thoughtful stewardship of the natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational resources of the byway region.” The Cattaraugus County extension would add about 25 miles along Route 219 through Concord, Ashford, Ellicottville and back. On June 25, the county legislature voted overwhelmingly to support the project. Approval by the state legislature and the governor also is required.

The Ellicottville Village Board has announced an effort to build support for rezoning the “four corners” of Ellicottville as a “special” historic district with strict allowed uses. Those uses are to be determined by the Village Board, the Planning Board and the entire community. The intent of the effort is to preserve the integrity of these historic and architecturally unique buildings (the 1887 Building, St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Village/Town Hall and the Town Museum) and their grounds, which have anchored the village since the 1800s at the corners of Jefferson and Washington streets.

The entire Ellicottville Central School District is awaiting the start of construction on the $9.8 million renovation project that will break ground in the next few weeks. Plans call for a new multi-purpose gymnasium, renovation of 10 classrooms in the high school wing, repair of the elementary school’s ventilation system and construction of a protected entryway at the southern entrance to the high school.

While the school is under construction for the next year and a half, the school administration and board have worked tirelessly to make alternate arrangements to accommodate sports teams, school events and all the other activities that must be relocated.

Preparing for Summer

Spring is a great time to visit Ellicottville, but summer is also a blast and the entire community has been preparing for it all year long.

Be sure to check out the activities article on the gloss wrap and check off which of the 32 exciting adventures you will be adding to your summer bucket List!