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Greenway Commission OKs Lewiston-area projects

by jmaloni
Wed, Sep 21st 2011 10:00 am

Board approves ice rink, LCA equipment, Seaway Trail markers

by Joshua Maloni

Despite the objection of Greenway Commission Chairman Robert Kresse, two Lewiston projects were deemed consistent with the Greenway Plan on Tuesday.

The Greenway Commission signed off on the Town of Lewiston's proposal to purchase and install a 38-foot-by-68-foot portable ice rink and a 20-foot-by-40-foot warming tent on the Tops side of Academy Park on Center Street. Supervisor Steve Reiter and grant writer Bernie Rotella requested $134,000 for the Village of Lewiston development, which was described as having an aim "to bring people together for outdoor social gatherings in the unique, picturesque setting of winter in Lewiston," in the project application.

"It's about the only winter attraction in the village," Rotella told the Greenway Commission. "There really is no ice rink in the area."

The bulk of the desired funding ($72,000) would go toward leasing the rink. The town intends to enter a four-year, lease-to-own agreement with the company Ice Rinks 2 Go. Rotella said the municipality opted to lease in order to assess the popularity of the attraction after its first year in operation.

"We want to test it out to see how successful it is," he said.

The town seeks $24,000 for electrical upgrades and $20,000 for the warming tent.

"I love ice skating; I love the project; but, it's not consistent (with the Greenway Plan)," Kresse said.

His colleagues disagreed and voted the proposal does, in fact, correlate with the Greenway Plan's mission of connecting people with parks and enhancing active recreation along the Niagara River.

The Town of Lewiston also asked for $15,000 to purchase new equipment for the Lewiston Council on the Arts' War of 1812-themed productions. The town's application states, "On both the U.S. and Canadian sides (of the border), entertainment, programming, and historical and cultural interpretations will celebrate this special celebration for thousands of residents and tourists."

"It's going to be an exciting interpretation of local history," Rotella said.

"We love turning people on to the real history of Lewiston," added LCA Artistic Director Eva Nicklas. "We just want to give it to everybody, because we think it's really good."

The LCA request didn't offer a cost breakdown, but Nicklas said the "Marble Orchard: Spirits of 1812" production relied on Goodwill Industries costuming, and booming voices. Her group seeks to purchase new clothing, microphones and lighting.

Kresse voted "no," saying it wasn't a permanent investment in the region. Once again, his colleagues disagreed. They approved the proposal, citing its ability to attract tourists to Western New York.

A third plan, which involves Lewiston but stretches the length of the Seaway Trail, also was approved. Curt Schumacher, of Seaway Trail Inc., sought funding for what was described as "five new, outdoor storyteller signs interpreting the history of the War of 1812 at key sites along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway as part of the 200th anniversary commemoration of the war."

The signs would be placed in Buffalo's Black Rock port community (offering information on the British targeting of Black Rock); in Niagara Square, near Buffalo City Hall (Buffalo's burning); at the end of Erie Street along the Buffalo harbor (Red Jacket and Native American roles); at Center and North Water streets in the Village of Lewiston (attack on Lewiston and the Tuscarora warriors' defense); and at Fort Niagara in Youngstown (control of the waterway).

Schumacher said his group seeks to place a total of 19 40-inch-by-30-inch laminated signs along the 500 miles of the Seaway Trail, which begins at the Ohio/Pennsylvania border.

With regard to the Niagara River region, he asked for $25,000, which would mainly go toward planning ($7,500) and acquisition ($17,500).

"We think it's a very complete project that will really help tourism in the area," Schumacher said.

The Greenway Commission agreed and, Kresse included, voted in favor of the project.

A fourth Lewiston-area proposal, a request for $45,000 to fund children's programming at Artpark, was pulled before it went up for a vote. Rotella said Reiter wants to reassess the plan, which closely resembled a pitch made in 2010.

While the Greenway Commission approved the first three proposals, it does not award funding. The project coordinators will now be sent to meet with standing committees, which dole out monies from the New York Power Authority. NYPA agreed to spend $450 million over 50 years to enhance the greenway corridor as part of its 2007 relicensing agreement.

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