Lewiston eyes 'Lower River Road Town Park'; Trane requests funding for road maintenance
By Terry Duffy
With winter slowly turning to spring, discussions in the Town of Lewiston are once again turning to recreation ideas for the lower river.
No, it's not Joseph Davis Park - past plans died and the park has since been returned to state control. Nor is it the Stella Preserve - that property is now owned and managed by the Western New York Land Conservancy
This time it is what Town Supervisor Steve Broderick loosely called Monday "the Lower River Road Town Park," a 5.6-acre plot of land owned by the town. It's located on the west side Lower River Road, just north of the Stella Preserve, across from the Lewiston Senior Center and adjacent to Pletcher Road Park.
"We've discussed it before," said Broderick, as he revealed his latest ideas for the sloping parcel of land down to the river's edge that includes 400 feet of waterfront frontage. Owned by the town, it currently sees various operations, including use by the town Park's Department, along with infrastructure associated with the town's wastewater treatment plant operations as well as gas lines under the river. It has been discussed as a site for various recreational purposes over the years, from a fishing dock to another boat launch.
Among the plans for the parcel Broderick discussed would be a paved area from Lower River Road to the water; the building of pavilions; a kayak launch and park trails.
"There is no park there now; it is property that we own. We want to put a kayak launch in, we want to have two to three pavilions down there, there would be handicapped parking down there," he said. "Anyone that would come down there to use the pavilion; there would be a drop-off and they would park by the outfall building. The only people who could park down there would be handicapped.
"We also talked about a kayak launch, which would take some permitting."
"It's a basically a work in progress," said Town Councilman Bill Geiben. "We have to put it out, get the public feedback from the ideas. It would be modified along the way. This is just a starting point, even though there has been some history of trying this endeavor in the past.
"This will be a full-fledged movement forward and it will be a non-motorized launch area - kayaks, canoes, not motorboats."
Broderick said he has spoken with the Land Conservancy on the plan and they support it as a "hard park" with limited infrastructure versus the Preserve's "soft park" all natural classification.
He said the group is open to discussing issues such as parking and restroom facilities, noting the availability of the town's new rest stop at the top of the hill near Lower River Road. The park would be open dusk to dawn and there would be availability for private as well as public use.
"The Land Conservancy, they're all for it," Broderick said, adding the site can also be used for Shuttle stops, etc.
Funding would be covered by the Niagara River Greenway Plan for phases one and two (park improvements and restoring the outfall building, currently used by the Parks Department). Any town responsibility would be limited to future maintenance costs.
"We don't have a final number on the town park," said Broderick as he requested a board resolution be approved, along with a park improvement proposal to submit to Greenway for consideration. It went on to pass board approval unanimously.
"It's a perfect project for Greenway," commented town grant writer Bernie Rotella, who will submit the proposal for its May meeting.
In other news from the session:
•Town Highway Superintendent Dave Trane presented for board approval the 284 Agreement to provide funding for improvement of town roads for the 2018 fiscal year. The measure would address paving on Walmore Road, Elliott Drive, Jarrett Drive, Cleghorn Drive and Callan Drive.
Trane also requested the board look into New York Power Authority H-97 (hydropower funding) for additional road maintenance projects. "The roads are in a lot worse shape," he said. "We went over, surveyed some of the roads ... I'm trying to keep some of my good roads good," as he requested additional paving funding from H-97.
Trane explained it costs town highway $82,000 to pave a road, "20 foot road (width) for a mile, with 2 inches thick, it's $82,000. The town gives me approximately $53-$54,000, per year. The rest of the funds, almost $197,000, (come) from the state, and CHIPs funds.
"At that rate it's going to take me 21 years to get around to a road again," he said. "So (to keep up) what I should be doing with 65 miles of road, I should be doing 6-1/2 miles of road a year.
"I'm not paving that; the money's just not there for the town."
Trane said if he could additional H-97 funding, in turn he would be able to extend the life of the town's "good roads."
"This is a maintenance program," he said. "It will help me save the 'good roads,' and keep them good."
The board went on to approve the 284 Agreement and indicated they'd be pursuing what additional money could be gleaned from H-97.
•The town held two public hearings - one on a local law establishing Solar Energy Systems, the other on site plan to allow for a 16,000 tank for storage of flammable materials (diesel fuel) at Mount St. Mary's Hospital. Both saw no comments.
On the Mt. St. Mary's plan, spokesman Darrin O'Hara told the board the new storage tank would enable the hospital to upgrade its 50-year electrical backup services with a new fuel supply. The plan, which saw prior approval by the town's Planning Board and Fire Commission went on to be approved.
No action was taken on the town's Solar Energy Systems local law, pending further review.