Niagara River Greenway Commission Executive Director Greg Stevens invited River Region residents to attend a public meeting on the lower Niagara Shoreline Trail Connectivity Study. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 2, at the Town of Lewiston Senior Center, 4361 Lower River Road.
This study is currently evaluating trail connections, public green space, and waterfront accessibility, and pedestrian and bicycle mobility from Artpark in Lewiston to Four Mile Creek State Park in Youngstown.
At this meeting, participants will learn more about the study and Niagara River Greenway vision. People also will have a chance to share their ideas for trail and accessibility improvements.
Stevens issued the invitation when visiting the Village of Lewiston board meeting on Tuesday, and again when presenting to a group of River Region artists on Thursday.
“We’re really excited about the role Lewiston plays in this next phase of development,” he said. “Up to now, we’ve been trying hard to complete the trail from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, which is our goal.”
Stevens said 8.5 million bicyclists are projected to visit Western New York each year to ride the Empire State Trail.
“Lewiston, as the gateway to the lower Niagara, the northern region of our Niagara Region, is in just the right place to capture this opportunity, take advantage of it – the benefit of your businesses on Center Street – and, very importantly, for the whole community, to be able to be connected with Artpark. For the first time in a long time, to have a trail system that has a lot more active tourism,” he said. “And so, we’re really here to give you just a basic idea of what we see coming, and then we want to hear your thoughts on how it could be optimized, particularly today in thinking about green spaces and gardens and public art that could enhance the look.”
“Lewiston has amazing stories to tell,” Stevens said.
He further added, “The Greenway (Plan) is trying to connect the whole of the Niagara Region and our green spaces, our parks, our conservation areas. This is the last major gap, and we want to really pay attention to what works best for the community here.”
The artist group spoke of ways in which to connect a bike trail with an art trail – which is one of Mayor Anne Welch’s goals. Some ideas included:
•Placemaking or wayfinding pieces at the corner of Center and Ninth and Center and Fourth streets that, perhaps, take the place of traditional signage while also signifying entry points along the trail;
•Creating a mural on a new Academy Park comfort station;
•Staging pieces of art along Center Street and within pocket projects; and
•Replacing worn-out shrubbery at Center and North Fourth streets with a piece of art – this also would tie-in with the work to be on display in the Gallo courtyard.
Suggestions also were made to seek out grants to provide funding for art projects; tying in the Discover Niagara Shuttle; and creating closer ties with Artpark – perhaps with additional art projects along South Fourth Street heading into the venue.
The Greenway Commission is working on the study alongside the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and Bergmann, an architectural/engineering/planning firm out of Rochester.
Again, the community will have an opportunity to hear this presentation and offer feedback at the March 2 meeting.
Ted Liddell, a landscape architect with Bergmann, said the goal is to create “an experience,” connecting nature, art, recreation and business, and forging stronger connections.
“Throughout the process, we’re very interested to hear what you have to say,” he said.
Liddell explained, “The most successful projects are the ones where the community gets involved, provides their input, and helps to guide the process to make it a project that is really special for the community and the region.”
The study is expected to be completed by the fall.
GM/Managing Editor Joshua Maloni contributed to this article.