by Larry Austin
The town will apply for a $400,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for financial assistance with the Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park project.
The Town Board voted 5-0 at a meeting Monday to authorize Town Supervisor Peter McMahon to file an application for funds. McMahon said the town has used wetland's mitigation money, a grant from the Department of the Interior, and money paid by developers for recreation to purchase 203 acres on the northeast side of the Island.
"There's been a plan for many years - it's in our local waterfront revitalization plan, it's in our long range parks and recreation (plan) - to put some passive trails through there so that people could hike, they could jog, they could birdwatch," McMahon said. An opportunity for funding arose through that state parks grant program and Niagara River Greenway funding, McMahon said, allowing the town to fund the project with impacting the local tax levy.
Not everyone was on board with the grant application. Resident Jim Mulcahy said he has signed petitions in the past supporting preservation of more green space, but added, "We're going to foist this cost on either the rest of the state or the rest of the country. This is why this country is broke."
"I would agree with you 100 percent if you could prove to me that my taxes are going to go down one penny," McMahon responded. "If I turn the grant down, you and I both know what's going to happen. Some other community's going to get it, and my taxes are going to stay where they are."
Councilman Gary Roesch compared the Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park plan to the town's Fisherman's Landing project, which is under construction and nearing completion. Councilman Richard Crawford said the Town Board in the past has "responsibly taken advantage" of grants offered by the state and federal government, citing a library construction fund that provided $100,000.
"We have taken the initiative to look at these funding sources outside of our general property tax base and made those programs work for our taxpayer, even though at the taxing end of it we're all still paying for it again," Crawford said.
Councilwoman Mary Cooke agreed with Mulcahy and said of the grants, "theoretically, they need to go," but that the town is trying to play the cards it is dealt as well as possible. "It's a huge problem that eventually is going to be dealt with nationwide," Cooke said of the expenditures.
Also at the meeting, McMahon noted that Friday, Aug. 19, and Saturday, Aug. 20, National Grid will have a planned power outage on Grand Island for approximately four hours between 10 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday. National Grid reports there are approximately 58 customers involved in the outage between 1765 and 1989 Grand Island Blvd., and 1796 and 1982 Webb Road.