By Lauren Zaepfel
Increasing safety at Veterans Memorial Community Park was thoroughly discussed by Niagara's Town Board at its Dec. 17 meeting.
A presentation was given by Town of Niagara parks employee Roger Spurback on the work done to increase visibility and safety on park pathways after multiple complaints from parkgoers were received on unsafe walkway conditions.
In late August, more than 290 trees were removed along with overgrown bushes and brush to create clear site lines into the woods and along curving pathways.
"This was not about pulling trees out of the forest," Spurback said. "It was about taking the right trees down that deserve to come down, because they posed a safety hazard at some point in time." He noted several trees were dead and decaying and 60 percent of what was removed was dry-rot.
Spurback described the work as proactive because the inability to see around corners on the paths was dangerous to those walking, jogging or riding a bike.
The main example given was that seniors often walk along the trails. With limited visibility, a senior could easily step out into a line of traffic and collide with a biker who may not be able to stop fast enough.
Other safety initiatives were brought up by Deputy Supervisor Charles Teixeira, who said the board has considered installing emergency phones, cameras systems and additional lighting.
Supervisor Lee Wallace said cameras at the park's entrance could record license plates of vehicles going in and out of the park after hours.
At present to add more lighting, the board approved an increase of $19,829.02 to a portion of the Veteran Memorial Community Park power project for National Grid to install power inside the park from the street.
Currently the park uses several solar lights, but additional, more powerful lights may be installed, especially for use during nighttime and this time of year when sunlight is more limited.
Another addition to the park includes a veterans memorial. Plans are already underway.
The board approved engineering firm Clark Patterson Lee to develop the memorial's design plans for construction in 2016 at a cost not to exceed $18,890.
A rendering of the memorial was shown at the town's first Veterans Dinner held Nov. 13.
Wallace said a remembrance walkway will be part of the memorial. An annual enshrinement process will allow a veteran's loved ones to add their names in stone along the pathway.