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Wendy Paterson, in front, with Waterkeeper volunteers working at Spicer Creek on Grand Island. (Submitted photo)
Wendy Paterson, in front, with Waterkeeper volunteers working at Spicer Creek on Grand Island. (Submitted photo)

NYS Department of State announces completion of improvements to Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park on Grand Island

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Wed, Nov 18th 2020 09:25 am

Park transforms Grand Island waterfront into vibrant destination with public spaces & amenities for tourism, economic activity; improvements include miles of recreation trails, boardwalks & vernal pools

Funding provided by Department of State under Title 11 of Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program

The New York State Department of State on Tuesday announced the completion of a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) project for Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park in the Town of Grand Island. The completion of the nearly $600,000 project, which was funded in part with a $197,634 EPF LWRP grant, is helping to transform the town’s waterfront into a vibrant destination with public spaces and amenities for residents and visitors.

Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park is a nature preserve, encompassing five miles of planned passive recreation trails within 220 acres of green space with access to the Niagara River. The upgrades to the park include the construction of a western-end trailhead with handicap-accessible parking, approximately 7,000 linear-feet of stone dust trails and boardwalks/bridges, signage and vernal pools.

“This Local Waterfront Revitalization Program project is part of a long-term revitalization plan for Western New York and its surrounding communities to offer recreational opportunities for fun and learning,” New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “New York state looks forward to continue to assist in transforming spaces like the Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park into vibrant destinations for tourism and economic activity with public spaces and amenities for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

In addition to the EPF LWRP funding, the project was funded with $117,860 from the Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee. The Town of Green Island covered remaining expenses. The Orange Trail was constructed as part of the project and provides access to a 20-acre-plus parcel the Western New York Land Conservancy protects. The trail travels into the forested parcel, past the newly planted vernal pools and continues across Gun Creek. The vernal pools were created outside of the regulated wetland areas – close enough to the trails to provide visual interaction, but far enough away to allow a safe buffer for the invertebrates and amphibians.

This new project also provides opportunities for physical and educational activities for almost 2,000 students and staff at the adjoining Grand Island Central School District. It also provides park amenities for outdoor recreation, organized programs and events, and community gatherings for the residents in adjacent communities.

Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, “It is with great appreciation that we celebrate the completion of improvements to Scenic Woods Bicentennial Park in the Town of Grand Island, New York. Thank you to Gov. Cuomo and the Department of State for their continued focus on waterfront revitalization. The benefits to residents and visitors giving access to outdoor passive recreational opportunities during these trying COVID times is a positive announcement that gives us hope for the future.”

Town of Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney said, “On Grand Island we are blessed with some of the largest remaining forests in the Niagara River watershed. The Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park project is a significant attraction for the island. We are pleased to provide yet another opportunity for people to get outdoors and enjoy nature right at home.”

Western New York Land Conservancy Executive Director Nancy Smith said, “We are thrilled to be part of this exciting project. Scenic Woods was one of the first forests we protected on Grand Island. With the trails now complete, we look forward to welcoming visitors to this spectacular place.”

Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Committee Chairman Tom Hersey Jr. said, “This collaboration will revitalize Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park and make it easier for both residents and visitors to access and passively enjoy the natural beauty of wooded areas along the Niagara River. Providing more opportunities to explore nurtures a healthy appreciation for the environment and an understanding of why we need to conserve the places we value.”

The Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park project is bound by residential areas along Ransom Road to the north, East River Road to the east, the Sturbridge Lane and the Grand Island Central School District to the west, and Gun Creek and the River Oaks Golf Course to the south. The land was purchased by the town to expand public access to the waterfront and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, environmental education, and related programming.

The nature-oriented design of the trails and other amenities conserves natural resources while added improvements support passive recreation and environmental education. It is home to numerous ecological communities, including northern deciduous forest, successional shrubland and old-field upland communities, and forested shrub-scrub, wet meadow and shallow emergent march wetland communities. Future project phases are planned to connect the newly completed segment trail to the Niagara River.

The Department of State's LWRP, funded under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund, provides matching grants on a competitive basis to eligible villages, towns, cities and counties located along New York’s coasts or designated inland waterways for planning, design and construction projects to revitalize communities and waterfronts. This program helps communities breathe new life into their waterfront and underused assets in ways that ensure successful and sustainable revitalization. To learn more about the local waterfront revitalization program, visit here.

More details about the Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park project can be found at http://www.grandislandny.us/maps/engineering/scenic_woods_park.php.

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