By Michael DePietro
Interim Tribune Editor
On Tuesday, the Town of Niagara was awarded nearly $600,000 in Niagara River Greenway funding for a proposed Town Square project for Veterans’ Memorial Community Park, bringing the total funds provided by Greenway to upward of $1 million.
The plan was approved by the Host Communities Standing Committee, which met via teleconference amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The HCSC, which is comprised of the seven members of the Niagara Power Coalition and the New York Power Authority, administers and oversees projects financed by the Greenway Recreation/Tourism Fund in Niagara County.
Per the initial proposal, phase one construction of the project is set to include, among other amenities, a stamped concrete hardscape with three natural-gas lit fireplaces and an overhead wooden pergola, the conversion of a current pavilion into handicap-accessible restroom, and a 30-foot clocktower that is slated to become the park’s central focal point.
The HCSC previously awarded the town $399,870 in July 2017 for the project. At the time, the entire construction budget for the project was estimated at $647,183. Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee Wallace said those initial cost estimates were compiled by then-town engineering firm Clark Patterson Lee. When the town chose GHD as its engineering firm in 2018, the project was considered “vastly underfunded.”
“This is the exact same project; nothing has changed from what we submitted originally. The only change, obviously, is the significant amount of money that we are asking for, in addition to what we had initially asked for,” he said.
Wallace explained the town is still committed to the $250,000 figure it had agreed to put up per the initial Greenway deal.
Beyond phase one of the plan, a number of other recreational ideas have been floated around for the park, including a four-season multisport rink, mini-golf course, and brand-new baseball diamonds. All of these upgrades and ideas come amidst a number of completed developments that have been a boon to the park in recent years, including the Remembrance Square Veterans Memorial and summer splash pad.
Elsewhere in the teleconference, the HCSC appointed Wallace as the interim committee chairman after the position was vacated by former Chairman Thomas O’Donnell, Esq. Wallace was nominated by Niagara Falls City Schools Superintendent Mark Laurrie, and was seconded by Thomas Burgasser, Esq. Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino was selected as vice chair, after being nominated by Wallace and seconded by Laurrie. The positions will be held until the committee’s next election on June 16.
The next Host Communities Standing Committee meeting is tentatively set for noon on June 16.