Commission emphasizes community involvement
By Michael DePietro
During a presentation at Monday’s Town Board meeting in the Town of Lewiston, Niagara River Greenway Commission Executive Director Gregory Stevens announced a public workshop regarding the lower Niagara Shoreline Trail Connectivity Study.
The public meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 2, at the Town of Lewiston Senior Center, 4361 Lower River Road.
The feasibility study is looking to “evaluate multi-modal connectivity options from Artpark in the Village of Lewiston, to Four Mile Creek Park in the Town of Porter,” as it aims to complete the final run of The Niagara River Greenway trail.
The system is a linear network of public green spaces, linked by multiuse trails, extending from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario along the Niagara River. Over the past five years, the project has completed trail systems that now extend from the City of Lackawanna through the areas of Grand Island, Wheatfield and Niagara Falls, into Lewiston and Youngstown.
As the final phase gets underway, the Greenway Commission is looking for public input to make the Lewiston-Porter section the capstone of the system.
“We believe the greatest part of the whole Greenway system could be the Lower Niagara,” Stevens said. “It’s a spectacular ecological area, it has lovely villages – Lewiston and Youngstown – so we’re doing something we’ve never done before. We’re stopping here and doing a significant outreach of the communities to find out what (the public’s) vision might be.”
The Lewiston and Porter section will also serve an expanded role connecting the Empire State Trail system to Canada via the Rainbow Bridge and Peace Bridge. According to Stevens, the Empire State Trail (after its expected completion this year) will be the largest continuous multiuse trail in the country and is estimated to bring in approximately 8.6 million bicyclists each year.
According to Stevens, some of the questions the commission hopes to resolve via the public input meetings involve residents’ preferred locations for the trail, concerns about traffic, concerns about local conservation efforts, and suggestions for ways in which to use the trail to benefit local businesses and vice versa.
To help conduct the study, the Greenway Commission has hired Bergmann, a local architecture and engineering firm. While no concrete plans exist yet without public input, Stevens discussed some ideas that have arisen in talks with community members from the Village of Lewiston.
Amid comments looking to connect the Artpark area back to the village and return it to its participatory art roots, the Greenway Commission has looked into ideas that might fit that aesthetic should the trailways ultimately run through that area. Some ideas included theming the trail based on public art, and even looking for ways to use murals and sculptures in favor of traditional signs.
Throughout his presentation, Stevens reiterated the concept of placemaking – an approach to planning, design and management of public spaces that emphasizes community involvement. Stevens talked about some of the qualities exhibited throughout the Lower Niagara from the area’s rich history, to its local flora and fauna, that might help form a sort of identity for the trail.
“It’s a combination of some of these themes. When thinking about your town, you have a lot of these components, fabulous open spaces, interesting geography, some parks, some waterfront. How do you want to mix those together? That’s what we’re listening for,” Stevens said.
This study, which officially began in January, is expected to be completed by the fall.
The Niagara River Greenway is funded each year through the next 38 years by relicensing proceeds from the New York Power Authority.
Sewer Law Amendment
Town Board members voted unanimously to amend Local Law Chapter 270 – Sewers to establish a sewer remediation dedicated fund. The vote came after a brief public hearing wherein no residents spoke out on the plan.
Town Clerk Donna Garfinkel explained, “Said article would establish the creation of the Town of Lewiston sewer remediation dedicated fund, which shall dedicate funds for use on inflow and infiltration reduction projects. Prior to the establishment of any new connection to the town sewer system, applicants who propose or construct a sewer extension designed to serve more than one sewer connection and/or intended to convey 2,500 gallons per day or more of residential sewage, shall commit to projects for use on inflow and infiltration reduction and pay into the Town of Lewiston remediation dedicated funds.
“The complete text of said law is on file at the town clerk’s office and is available for review by any interested person during normal hours.”
The next regular Town Board work session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 9.