The New York Power Authority and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on Tuesday marked the completion of a $6 million upgrade at Reservoir State Park in the Town of Lewiston and Town of Niagara at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.
The improvements include renewed ball fields, basketball and tennis courts and other recreational and landscaping measures for enhancing the 133-acre park.
The refurbishing of the park stemmed from NYPA commitments under an agreement with OPRHP preceding the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2007. The park, which is owned by NYPA and operated and maintained by OPRHP with financial support from NYPA, is within the boundary of the 2,441-megawatt hydroelectric plant, along the south side of the facility's Lewiston reservoir.
Although stemming from commitments that NYPA made in support of the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, the measures at Reservoir State Park are consistent with the importance given by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to park improvements in Western New York and throughout the state to enhance New York's scenic beauty and promote recreational opportunities and tourism. This includes the governor's New York Works initiative for strategic investments in infrastructure and rehabilitation of parks.
"The measures that we took at Reservoir State Park are sure to heighten the enjoyment by visitors of the varied attractions, whether it's playing team sports, hiking or picnicking on the beautiful grounds," said John R. Koelmel, NYPA chairman. "This is a sparkling example of the recreational benefits emerging from the relicensing several years ago of the Niagara hydroelectric plant. It also speaks of the collaborative relationship of NYPA and State Parks on behalf of Western New York."
"The Reservoir State Park upgrade underscores the Power Authority's commitment to Western New York beyond the low-cost hydropower from our Niagara Power Project that underpins tens of thousands of industrial jobs," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, the Power Authority will continue to work closely with State Parks and the others who partnered with us in the Niagara (Power) Project's relicensing to bolster the region's recreational and environmental resources and improve the quality of life for the area communities."
"We are incredibly grateful to NYPA for their contribution in restoring this very popular and extremely busy park. The upgrades provided through its efforts have certainly made this park far more accessible and attractive and we are certain it will be well used year-round," said OPRHP Commissioner Rose Harvey
Some of the improved Reservoir Park features include:
•Redeveloped ball diamonds, with "Mar-Co Clay," a specially developed material that provides a safer surface and better drainage for the infields.
•New infield lighting installations that now make night games possible.
•Regraded and seeded soccer fields.
•New basketball, street hockey and tennis courts.
•A new lighted ice-skating rink.
•New, safer equipment for the playground, which is now accessible to special-needs children.
•A new winter pavilion, or warming building, for observation at the sledding hill and other winter activities at the reservoir dike area, with the building open year-round.
•Enhancements to the park's Workers Memorial.
•A walking path in the southern area of the park that is accessible to people with disabilities.
•An improved model airplane landing field and access path.
•A repaved path to the top of the Lewiston reservoir dike.
•New kiosks and signage.
•New shrubs, trees and meadow plantings.
The Power Authority utilized the services of a number of Western New York firms for the extensive work at Reservoir State Park. They included Wendel Duchscherer Architects of Buffalo, which provided engineering and landscape architecture services, and Mark Cerrone Inc. of Niagara Falls, which provided the general contracting services for the overall initiative.
Under the Niagara project's relicensing agreement with OPRHP, NYPA pledged to undertake approximately $9.3 million in improvements to recreational facilities operated by State Parks within the project boundary. In addition to Reservoir State Park, this includes Artpark State Park and the Niagara Gorge area.
Agreements with other parties stemming from the relicensing included funding of $9 million a year for the Niagara River Greenway; the creation of a $12 million fund for construction of eight habitat improvement projects at designated areas outside the Niagara Power Project's boundaries to protect fish and wildlife within the Niagara River basin; and capital improvements to enhance public access to the Niagara River in the area of the power project.
In addition to recreational and environmental improvements, NYPA is providing hundreds of millions of dollars of further benefits for Western New York over the 50-year relicensing agreement. The benefits include annual funding to the seven municipal members of the Niagara Power Coalition known as the host communities, and to other area relicensing partners under separate agreements; and allocation of low-cost hydropower to the host communities and other settlement partners for substantial savings on electric bills.
Among others commenting on the improvements were:
State Sen. George Maziarz said, "After more than 50 years of use, it was time to reinvest in the park's ball diamonds, courts and other amenities. I am pleased to see the needed repairs and additional improvements, like the warming house by the sledding hill, which will increase the use of this regional asset."
William L. Ross of Wheatfield, chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, said, "Reservoir Park is a jewel for sports enthusiasts and that jewel looks even better now that this refurbishment is complete."
Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Reiter said, "The newly renovated Reservoir State park provides a wonderful complement to the town's own recreational facilities, giving Lewiston residents a myriad of outstanding choices for parks and recreation. With other improvements targeted by Niagara River Greenway funds, Lewiston residents can benefit from the resources of the Niagara Power Project, State Parks and the town for improved quality of life."
Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven Richards said, "The Town of Niagara is often called the 'retail hub of Niagara County,' but just down the road from the mall at the opposite end of town sits another important feature. Reservoir State Park and our nearby town park funded with Niagara Project relicensing money form a recreation hub of which any community would be envious."
Don Joyce, softball league president, said, "The improvements to Reservoir State Park and, in particular, the softball fields and restroom facilities, have returned this park into the premiere place to run softball leagues and tournaments. The lighted diamond extends the time frame to get more games played and provides a big league feel to small town fun."