by Terry Duffy
Members of the Lewiston Town Board listened intently Monday to a presentation by New York Power Authority representatives on the new look planned for Reservoir State Park.
No action was taken however on the granting of any town permits that were being pursued by NYPA with respect to sewer and road work for the project eyed on Old Military Road or for other work.
NYPA rep Michelle Stottler opened the Town Board session with a brief overview of improvements and maintenance planned for Reservoir State Park as part of NYPA's relicensing benefits pact to communities from its 2007 signed agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She explained that Reservoir State Park, located in both the Town of Lewiston and the Town of Niagara, actually comprises two parks.
It includes the "North" area, contained within Town of Lewiston boundaries, that consists of lands from Military Road out to the Niagara Power Project Reservoir. Among the enhancements planned by NYPA:
Also eyed is sewer installation on Old Military Road to accommodate the new construction and park uses. Stottler said that residents of Edna Drive off of Old Military Road have been approached by NYPA regarding easements of sections of their properties to enable construction. NYPA likewise approached the town for permit-granting to enable the sewer and related roadwork.
Enhancements eyed for the "South" area, located in the Town of Niagara and comprising lands from Military Road to adjacent to the I-190, include:
"Bids have been out and are now under review," said Stottler, telling board members that NYPA hopes to break ground in October with completion eyed for March of 2011. Not offering a price tag, she said the biggest improvements planned are the winter pavilion, ice rink and the sewer work, with funding to come from NYPA.
Lewiston Board members listened but took no action on granting permits. However, comments did come, particularly from Town Supervisor Steve Reiter. "It troubles me that all this money is going to be spent on this park," said Reiter, telling the NYPA reps of neglected conditions at Joseph Davis Park, and describing grass in some areas growing to "chin high," that the town contended with during the state's recent budget crises. "I know you people are the wrong people to being this up to, but. ..."
Reiter also voiced frustration on delays with the long-planned $2 million bike path project envisioned to run from above the escarpment near Power Authority property to the village, and the bureaucratic problems in getting permits from NYPA to allow it to proceed. "Think where we (would be) at ... if I had to approach the residents of Lewiston to gain permits," said Reiter.
Robert Daly, senior licensing specialist for NYPA, responded that Reservoir State Park, unlike Joe Davis or other state parks, sits within the boundaries of the Power Authority lands and that NYPA is responsible for its maintenance. As for the bike path, he indicated it was not a NYPA issue, but pledged NYPA cooperation on working with the town to get it finally under way.
Discussion closed on the matter with Reiter saying the town would be further analyzing the plan and the NYPA proposals, particularly with respect to the sewer and road projects.
In other news:
In addition, the board approved the hiring consideration of Allan Gansworth to the LPD upon completion of Phase 2 training at the Niagara County police academy and the sending of Anthony Sicarella as a recruit to the academy for a potential part-time position with LPD. Palmer also informed that LPD was considering adding on a fifth officer and is studying the issue as its budget is being prepared.
Palmer said that LPD has been contending with a host of staffing issues from its dealing with increased patrol activity in Lewiston over past months, namely from the numerous festivals held in the village and events at Artpark. He indicated the department was studying adding yet another part-time officer to its current budget, in addition to the planned staffing listed above.
In response, Reiter announced the town would be holding a meeting with numerous stakeholder groups in the village and town to discuss the many festivals and events held in Lewiston each summer and the financial impacts, namely LPD's having to contend with increased activity from crowds and traffic concerns, its staffing and overtime issues, and overall cost considerations to the town. Reiter made it a point at Monday's meeting to note a reduction of $36,000 in police funding received from the Village of Lewiston following LPD's move from offices in the Red Brick Municipal Building to the Lew-Port campus on Creek Road. He said LPD operations funding and other financial matters of concern to the town from the numerous events in the village needed to get addressed.
To take place Thursday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. in the board meeting room at Town Hall, those expected at the session include representatives from the LPD, town fire companies, the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees and mayor, Artpark officials, the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, the Lewiston Council on the Arts, the Historical Association of Lewiston and Lewiston Kiwanis Club officials. The meeting is open to the public.
On questioning from the board, Town Attorney Mike Dowd reported that no such position currently exists in the town and if desired, one would need to be approved by Niagara County District Attorney Marc Violanti's office. "We don't have a prosecutor for handling traffic infractions," said Dowd, adding that such matters are typically handled in the court by police officers. "We are perhaps one of the few towns in the county that doesn't have one."
Dowd, who serves as town prosecutor for the Town of Porter, said he could consider availing his services to Lewiston on a case-by-case basis if desired by the town and authorized by the County DA's office. The issue was expected to be revisited at the board's next meeting.