By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray advised the public near the conclusion of Monday's Grand Island Town Board meeting that a national truck stop chain has made a submission to the Planning Board for what he called "a massive truck stop/gas station" on Whitehaven Road.
Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores will present a concept plan for a plaza on Whitehaven west of the I-190 when the Planning Board meets Feb. 12 at Town Hall at 7 p.m.
McMurray expressed his opposition to the proposal at the Town Board meeting and he urged residents to do likewise to the Planning Board and Town Board members.
"It's a big project and I think it will have a negative impact on Grand Island, and I want the public to be aware that this is happening," McMurray said, citing environmental concerns with the project.
"A truck stop of the size and scope of the proposed Love's Travel Stop equals a sprawling concrete city. There are tons of parking spaces for tractor trailers to park for extended periods of time. Picture an enormous parking lot, with glaring overhead lights, right in the middle of Grand Island," McMurray wrote. "There are lines of gas pumps. There are fast food joints, convenience stores, pumping stations, and truck maintenance sites. All of this would be 24 hours, every day, for the rest of Grand Island's future."
"This type of development will destroy the ecosystem of the Town of Grand Island," said Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray. "A massive parking lot full of tractor-trailers - with pumping stations, fast food and convenience stores, shower and rest facilities, and truck fueling and maintenance sites - goes against the ideals of conservation and preservation so important to the long-term well-being of Grand Island."
He said during the Town Board meeting that the truck stop "is completely separate from the visitor's center," which the state is building between Alvin Road and the I-190.
Councilman Mike Madigan disagreed and said the truck stop "is relying on the sewer from the tourist center, according to them."
"There is no sewer at the tourist center," McMurray pointed out, adding that the welcome center will have its own septic system. Madigan responded that he spoke with a representative of Love's and said the state and Love's plan to work together.
"They're planning on hooking together," Madigan said. "They're going to work together on it."
Madigan opposes development west of the 190, which he expressed in a work session that preceded the regular meeting.
"I think we don't accept the sewer lines to cross the 190 for the tourist center of for anything because we don't want sprawl onto the other side of the Thruway," Madigan said to McMurray during the regular meeting. "I think we both agree with that."
"I 100 percent agree," McMurray said.
Councilman Pete Marston said the visitor center design currently has three septic tanks in it now "and we haven't had any conversations with the state."
"Well, the state's not sharing information other than with Love's, apparently," Madigan said.
McMurray asked Marston if he heard of plans for the welcome center to hook up with Love's.
"Not from the state," Marston said. "Way back when, there was a discovery meeting where the Love's people came in and they insinuated that they want to tie in to our sewers."
Marston said McMurray was "vehemently opposed" to that proposal.
In a statement, McMurray wrote, "Rumors are being spread that the truck stop plans to tie into the Welcome Center's sewer. These allegations are false: New York state does not plan to collaborate with the truck stop on sewer. In fact, the Welcome Center is putting in their own septic system, because the town has no plans to extend existing sewer facilities west of the I-190 on Whitehaven. It would be impossible to tie into a system that does not exist. All this 'he said'/'she said' distorts facts."