by Tiffany Hyman
The Town of Lewiston Town Board lent its approval last month to three projects aimed at enhancing the Niagara River Greenway corridor. Now under consideration before the Niagara River Greenway Commission is a $500,000 proposal to fund three projects: an ice rink in Academy Park, Artpark event programming and Lewiston Council on the Arts event programming.
"The projects will be voted on in September," said Lewiston Town Supervisor Steve Reiter.
"It's a great opportunity to showcase Lewiston," said Town Councilman Mike Marra. "It brings people here, and hopefully will continue."
Marra explained the breakdown of the three projects. The ice rink, which would be located within Academy Park, is estimated at a cost of $90,000.
"The idea is to obtain a portable rink," he said.
Completion for the project is expected around Christmas time if it passes the vote in September. Not only would it attract local residents, but also visitors from throughout Western New York and Southern Ontario.
Artpark is the second project for the Greenway plan. The park is one of Lewiston's most popular attractions, drawing crowds of more than 250,000 people annually. In order to maintain the popular free Tuesdays and Wednesdays concerts, the park needs additional funds. Greenway would provide funding of $40,000 to Artpark to cover costs associated with holding the shows.
"It's important to maintain the outstanding programs they're providing," said Marra.
The third project would assist the Lewiston Council on the Arts, a quality visual and performing arts society recognized throughout Western New York and Southern Ontario. Throughout the year, the LCA holds many events, including the Marble Orchard series, concerts such as "Summer of '69," "Blue Mondays," the Lewiston Jazz Project and perhaps the biggest event, the annual Lewiston Art Festival (see related cover story).
"The funding would help assist with the Art Festival, one of Lewiston's signature events," said Marra.
Spending was cut in the town by $100,000 last December, including for the above projects, however, recently, the Town Board moved on three other projects including the Lewiston Jazz Festival, the Battle of Queenston Heights and Tuscarora Heroes monument.
The Lewiston Jazz Festival is a popular summer program that promotes jazz and music to 40,000 visitors. Now in its 10th year, the fest brings in talented artists to perform their greatest hits for everyone to sing, dance and enjoy themselves. Due to the declining economy, the Jazz Festival is requesting $15,000 from the Greenway Commission to support the program.
Other funding proposals include:
•The Battle of Queenston Heights was the first battle in the War of 1812. To help gain a better understanding of the war, the Historical Society of Lewiston is hosting a commemoration and reenactment in October 2012.
The society estimated a total cost of $80,000 to complete the project, of which they are asking $25,000 from the Greenway Commission. The funds would cover the cost of re-enactors, artillery expenses, fireworks, music, food and cleanup.
•The Tuscarora Heroes monument is a symbol of thanks to the nation for saving the lives of settlers during a surprise British attack. The 110 percent life-size monument is set to be unveiled Dec. 19, 2013, marking exactly 200 years to the day of the attack. The project will cost $350,000 - with $300,000 funded by Greenway and $50,000 donated by private parties.
Town officials noted that Greenway money is not taxpayer funded, but rather comes from state money allocated to the group for the purpose of benefiting the Niagara River region corridor. It comes as a result of the New York State Power Authority relicensing settlement that was finalized in 2007.
"The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region," states the Greenway Commission in its mission statement.
"(Projects) must be consistent with what the Greenway Project is designated to do," said Reiter.
For more on Greenway funding, visit www.niagaragreenway.org.