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Tribune Year in Review: Community leaders reflect on the year, look ahead to 2016

Thu, Dec 31st 2015 07:00 am
Shown are Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee Wallace and community officials with a rendering of the planned Veterans Memorial. (Photo by Marc Carpenter)
Shown are Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee Wallace and community officials with a rendering of the planned Veterans Memorial. (Photo by Marc Carpenter)

By Lauren Zaepfel

Tribune Editor

The leaders of the Town of Niagara, Town of Wheatfield and City of North Tonawanda reflected on the highlights of 2015 and looked forward to 2016 in recent interviews.

City of North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur G. Pappas

Question: What were some of the biggest highlights from this past year for you as mayor and for the City of North Tonawanda?

Answer: I suppose for 2015, the highlight was being appointed mayor. And, of course, at the time there were many things in the works and we were working toward mostly completing projects that had been started.

But in terms of a few things that are important, I think that the usual type thing with infrastructure is an ongoing process and there's been more work done on that with storm sewer and infrastructure connections of that sort.

We were able to get approximately 10 miles of roads paved in the city, which is a major concern for all of us. And so we spent about $1 million on that. ... It is quite a process.

Also, we did get another phase of the marina at Gratwick Park completed, so that is all set for approximately 40-50 boats now. That had been dredged. New docks were put in, lighting, electricity - so that's ready to go.

We also were able to complete the basketball courts at Payne Park. We were able to redo that and put in new paving. The courts, baskets, padding and so on (were added). That was through the city and, of course, the help of the East Hill Foundation.

We've pretty much completed the bike paths, which were continuing from the end of Payne Avenue to Mayors Park, which is just about totally finished. There are still a few finishing touches for spring, but basically that's been taken care of.

We've also been able to install four emergency generators at our pump stations, so, in case of power failure, we now can continue the works of those stations without causing backups on people's property and their homes.

We also had completed a storm water separation project ... so that's eliminated some of the flooding situations.

Pictured are North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas and Children's Remembrance Gardenwalk committee members at the future gardenwalk's site. 

Pictured are North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas and Children's Remembrance Gardenwalk committee members at the future gardenwalk's site.

Q: What are some of the things you most look forward to in 2016? What are some plans the city has for the future?

A: I guess the highlight, as I said on a personal level, was being appointed for 2015, and I guess the highlight for this year is being elected to the position to continue on. But in terms of the city, we're looking forward to the growth of new businesses opening up with some new jobs. Specifically, Ivy Lea Construction is waiting to break ground and we're excited about that. We are just waiting for the paper work and the legal teams to finish up with their work.

The Canal Club 62 Tap & Eatery on Webster Street is going to be opening, hopefully, by spring (or maybe sooner). There isn't a definite date on it, but that's certainly in the works. There's also a new restaurant being worked on in the old Pierson Auto building, and that's right on the corner of Sweeney Street and Main Street right at the Delaware Bridge.

That's another exciting thing right on the water way.

Another thing is I have a committee that started working this year, and now in 2016, we're hoping to actually get the project off the ground with the creation of the Children's Remembrance Gardenwalk. And that's been given the blessing of the council, too, so we're about ready to move ahead on that.

Now that the Carnegie Art Center on Goundry Street has been refurbished - and still there's some ongoing work to be done - it's now open again and now there's new cultural activities that are taking place there. In the new year, there will be even more events taking place. We're trying to bring forth the arts more so in the community and in the area. So, we're happy and excited about that.

And I mentioned the bike path earlier and, of course, this year it will be totally complete and it's already being used. Finishing touches will be made this year.

The public use of the three new kayak launches along the Erie Canal will be in full force. They started the installment right at the end of the season this year, but, I would say, 2016 will be the real kickoff for them. There's going to be two launches and one actual dock on the canal. And, of course, kayaking is becoming more and more popular.

There's beautification efforts that are being completed this year. We have the new flower boxes - they have now been delivered and will be put in place on Webster Street and some along Oliver Street.

Also on Oliver Street, we are continuing with the cleanup and looking forward to a few more trees being put down there. Some of the other things that have been completed, if you're going back to 2015, were the storefront completions on some buildings. They restored the fronts as part of the Oliver Street movement. So, we continue these things in 2016.

Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe

Question: What were some of the biggest highlights from this past year for you as supervisor and for the Town of Wheatfield?

Answer: In his response, Cliffe outlined the following:

•Getting the Greenway Trail started; it's been 10 years getting to this point.

•Getting the improvements at Fairmount Park started; the order is now released and work could begin in early spring.

•Working on a major drainage survey; this will affect development for years to come.

•Cleaning up of the Love Canal waste in the Niagara Sanitation Landfill.

•Another incredible town picnic in late August.

•Several new businesses approved at Vantage Park: Bridgestone, Horizons, Pizza Logs and Gateway, as well as Retina Consultants at the Summit Mall complex.

Shown is a symbolic groundbreaking at Fairmount Park by Town of Wheatfield officials. 

Shown is a symbolic groundbreaking at Fairmount Park by Town of Wheatfield officials.

Q: What are some of the things you most look forward to in 2016? What are some plans the town has for the future?

A: Cliffe listed the following in his response:

•Getting shovels in the ground for the Greenway Trail and Fairmount improvements.

•Working through the concerns regarding the dehydrator proposed for Liberty Drive.

•Planning to remediate remaining hazardous waste at the Niagara Sanitation Landfill. (Well, not really looking forward to this, but we do have to shepherd this along.)

•Approving the farmers' focus group's plan to help preserve farming as an important resource.

•Similarly, finalizing the greenspace focus group plan for "conservation subdivision" law.

•Working through the rezoning of lands along Niagara Falls Boulevard, our major commercial corridor.

Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee S. Wallace

Questions: What were some of the biggest highlights from this past year for you as supervisor and for the Town of Niagara? What are some of the things you look most forward to in 2016? What are some plans the town has for the future?

Answer: In his response, Wallace outlined the following:

The Belden Center sewer project: a $1.5 million project aimed at the renovation and repair of both the sanitary and storm sewers in the Town of Niagara neighborhood called Belden Center. The project, which began in 2015 will continue through 2016 and be completed in the fall of 2016.

Storm water management and flood control of the Roberts Drive/Tuscarora Road area (Weber property): In cooperation with Niagara County and Buffalo River Keepers, we are developing a plan to address the flooding issues in the Roberts Drive/Tuscarora area, as well as create a naturalized environmentally sensitive park setting in the property currently owned by the Weber estate. This is a cooperative ongoing project that, once completed, will not only help with the storm water management of the area in question, but also create a naturalized park setting for the preservation of wildlife and the surrounding wooded area.

WNY First Responder Center: In cooperation with state Sen. Rob Ortt and Niagara County, a plan is being developed to create a First Responder Center at the site formally known as the U.S. Army Reserve Center on Porter Road in the Town of Niagara. This site will become a Niagara County and Western New York hub for disaster preparedness in response to any incidents that may occur as a result of a weather-related or other type of disaster.

Veterans Memorial Park: The town park was officially named Veterans Memorial Community Park and is undergoing major renovations and upgrades.

In 2015, the town's accomplishments include:

•Created additional landscaping by planting over 100 evergreens and other types of flowers and plants throughout the park.

•Installed a new electric park sign at the entrance

•Passed an ordinance making all Town of Niagara parks and recreation areas non-smoking

In 2016, the town's plans include:

•$350,000 project to bring external (outside), electrical power.

•$350,000 project to construct a "splash park."

•Design and construct a veterans memorial.

Satellite parks upgrade: With the proceeds the town received from the sale of the Young Street Park, it purchased new multipurpose playground structures for all five of the town's satellite parks, including John Street, Garcia, Belden Center, Sharpe and Colonial Village.

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