by Terry Duffy
Park improvements and SPCA issues occupied significant portions of an otherwise low-key Porter Town Board session this past Monday.
First District Niagara County Legislator Clyde Burmaster of Ransomville visited to deliver $150,000 in Niagara River Greenway funding, intended to go for planned improvements at Porter on the Lake Park. The funding is part of a $390,000 Greenway appropriation awarded annually to Niagara County as a Host Community Standing Committee member. It was approved this past spring by the Greenway Commission's Host Standing Committee. Of this total, $60,000 will go toward the purchase and installation of new, handicapped-accessible playground equipment geared for children ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12 at the park.
Other funding will go toward the purchase of Greenway signage inside the park and construction of a 10-foot wide access path to the playground and for nearby parking. Remaining money would go to POTL's capital project fund, toward future park improvement projects, one of which includes a pavilion. "It's the type of funding that Greenway is intended for," said Burmaster, noting POTL's location on the shore of Lake Ontario and the fact that both Porter and Youngstown straddle area waterways.
Other park news that night saw the Town Board approving an upgrade with National Grid for the installation of new lighting at the corner of Dietz and Lake roads and at the park's entrance on Dietz Road. A third lighting fixture is under consideration where Dietz Road ends on the lakeshore. "It's a safety issue out there," commented Town Highway Superintendent Scott Hillman.
Still more news from the session involved attempts by the town to address ongoing service problems with the SPCA of Niagara. Porter, like other towns in the county under contract with the SPCA, has been contending over past months with response problems involving delayed or non pick-ups of stray dogs and cats, plus issues involving the SPCA's care of animals in need. The town remains under a day-to-day working agreement with the SPCA and has been pursing other options.
According to Town Attorney Mike Dowd, one involves the town's possible contracting with an outside independent provider, who would serve the role of a dog control officer and also as a service provider to animals. However the unnamed woman who expressed interest has yet to fulfill town and state statute requirements to carry this out, as they require the individual to serve as an outside associate engaged "in protection for the care of animals."
"It's a real mess," said Dowd, who notes that the SPCA, which serves as the town's dog warden, frequently runs out of space to house strays that are picked up. "Other towns in the county are contending with it likewise" and are considering other options, he added.
•The Town Board heard updates from Dowd and from town Engineer Dave Brittain of CRA Associates on the Balmer Road water tower replacement project under consideration by the town. Dowd reported that federal officials were seeking deed information with regards to the Balmer Road location where an older town water tower currently stands.
And Brittain said he was still considering options on what to do with the older unit should a replacement water tower be built. "Overall that has not advanced enough to be considered at this time," said Brittain in response to questions by the board.
•Town grant writer Bernie Rotella informed the board he would be investigating waterfront revitalization grant funding avenues for Porter on the Lake. He indicated that up to $100,000 in grant funding could be pursued under a Lake Water Revitalization Program, with 50 percent matching funds available to eligible participants. Rotella said Youngstown's waterfront benefitted under an earlier LWRP grant improvement. Town Board members approved a resolution for Rotella to pursue the grant.