by Joshua Maloni
The Niagara River Greenway Commission voted in favor of eight projects - four Lewiston-based and three in Youngstown - at a meeting held Tuesday in the Beaver Island Clubhouse on Grand Island.
The board ruled project submissions dealing with the Piper Law Office restoration, the Kiwanis Park playground, Sanborn streetscape, the Sanborn Area Historical Society addition, Joseph Davis State Park avitourism, and Fort Niagara and Four Mile Creek comfort stations are consistent with the Greenway Plan, which was approved in 2007. A project dealing with the Lewiston dog park was tabled as it falls within a previously approved ecological study.
The commission struggled with the idea of projects advancing the greenway versus projects designed to save municipalities money. In other words, the board expressed concern over what members called "maintenance" proposals, or plans that call for the allocation of money to fix up areas that should be maintained by local government.
Greenway Commission Vice Chairman Paul Dyster helped write the policy at hand. He said the thought was that, "In the inevitable budget crises that we knew were coming in the future, that the monies that were made available for the greenway not be used to subsidize the regular operating budget of any state agency. They would quickly be gobbled up if that were the case."
Chairman Robert Kresse, in particular, took issue with the majority of projects submitted for approval. In essence, he said if you build it, take care of it.
"If you're only maintaining something that already exists, you're not moving the greenway forward," Kresse said. "And that's the most important (thing)."
The board voted in favor of eight projects, with members stating each fell more into the category of a capital project than a routine repair.
The Greenway Commission is tasked with determining if proposals are consistent with the Greenway Plan. The criteria, in part, includes:
What the commission cannot do, however, is provide financial support.
"There's a difference between the approval of the (Greenway) Commission and the standing committees' decision to fund those projects," Kresse said.
The Host Community Greenway Fund Standing Committee receives $3 million annually from the New York Power Authority to fund projects such as the Piper Law Office, Kiwanis Park playground, Sanborn streetscape and Sanborn Area Historical Society. The standing committee will meet at noon on Wednesday, June 2, at the Niagara County IDA offices in Sanborn.
The comfort stations will be the subject of the State Parks Greenway Fund Standing Committee. That group, which also has $3 million per year, meets at 10 a.m. Monday in the NYPA Power Vista Classroom.
Greenway Project Summary
•Village of Lewiston Historic Piper Law Office Welcome Center: The "Little Blue House" was purchased by the village and moved from the north side of Center Street across to Academy Park. After an initial investment of $159,000 (which was used to move the building, install the infrastructure and begin the restoration process), additional construction is required (roof and chimney repair; windows; drywall; paint; landscaping; etc). Total estimated project cost: $54,000. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Kiwanis Park Playground: The population growth in Lewiston and increase in land use has rendered the park's safety surface much less effective - particularly in high wear spots. Moreover, the playground equipment is not user friendly for those with a physical or developmental disability. Total estimated project cost: $240,275. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Sanborn "Main Street" Streetscape Improvement Project: The design includes the construction of approximately 5,700 linear feet of sidewalk, restoring the landscape, and the addition of street amenities. The proposed improvements are on Saunders Settlement Road (Route 31) and Buffalo Street (Route 429). Total estimated project cost: $323,799. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Sanborn Area Historical Society and Farm Museum: This plan calls for the construction of a new, 5,000-square-foot building and the inclusion of utilities, drainage, parking and access drives for the museum, educational and cultural assembly and festivals. The building would also house recently acquired artifacts. Total estimated project cost: $260,000. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Enhancement of Bird Habitat, Environmental Education and Interpretation, and Ecotourism at Joseph Davis State Park: The goal with this proposal is to evaluate and improve both avian habitat and interpretive facilities in order to accommodate bird watching and avitourism at Joseph Davis State Park. Total estimated project cost: $195,550. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Fort Niagara State Park Comfort Station: The existing comfort stations utilized by park patrons in this area are not located close to the play fields and also require people to cross the extremely busy main park road to reach them. The bathroom facilities will be served by an extension of new water and sewer lines. Total estimated project cost: $560,000. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Four Mile State Park 200 Loop Comfort Station: A present comfort station in the 200 camping loop of Four Mile Creek State Park has seen its useful life and is in desperate need of replacement. The proposal calls for the creation of a new unit that would replicate one recently erected in the 100 loop. Total estimated project cost: $540,000. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Black Rock Heritage Trail (Buffalo) War of 1812 Project: This plan would identify by means of markers the battles and historic places of the War of 1812 in Black Rock. It would develop the soldiers' stories and develop a walking, biking and driving trail complete with historically accurate interpretation. Total estimated project cost: $100,000. Greenway Commission determination: consistent.
•Lewiston Plateau Dog Park and Nature Preserve: The off-leash area dog park at Lewiston Plateau would provide the more than 1,600 registered dog owners in the area with a place for their dogs to run and play without the restrictions placed on animals in Lewiston's other parks. Fencing and landscaping needs surround the 1.3-acre site. Total estimated project cost: $51,500. Greenway Commission determination: proposal tabled.
Source: Proposals submitted on the Niagara River Greenway Commission Web site.