By Becky Wydysh
Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman
I think it’s safe to say that our team at the Niagara County Department of Public Works (DPW) can put the snow plows away for the season. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is time for vacation, but rather DPW shifts its priorities and focus to other areas. I want to cover of few of those in this month’s column.
It’s no secret that our local roadways experience significant wear and tear through winter. That is why it’s very important that we continually invest in our road infrastructure. The most recent Road Ratings Summary produced by the regional transportation planning council shows that DPW has been making great progress. In the last six years, the miles of county roads that rate as poor or low has decreased by nearly 30%, while those rated as fair to good have increased by 20%. And above all else, the amount of miles under construction increased by 130% during that time, meaning we are out there fixing roads.
For the coming season, some of DPW’s big projects include resurfacing projects on Ewings Road, parts of Bear Ridge Road, parts of Tonawanda Creek Road west of Campbell, and Nash Road south of Route 62. They will also be completing bridge and culvert replacements on Carmen Road, Wilson Burt Road, Griswold and Porter Center Road. As always, please remember that many of these projects will require temporary detours and, while we understand the inconvenience a detour imposes, we ask for your patience.
Another part of DPW is the environmental division, which operates, among other things, the household hazardous waste (HHW) program. I know people are always interested in getting rid of those old chemicals that may be kicking around the garage or basement. During the 10 years the HHW program has been operating, more than 900,000 pounds of harmful products have been removed from Niagara County homes. And new this year, we are accepting latex paint for recycling.
The county will be hosting four events for people to recycle household hazardous waste. I am excited that the first one will be held in Lewiston from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 18, at the Lewiston Highway Department. These events are always popular, so we are requiring registration, which can be done at www.rethinkyourwaste.com/events.
Finally, operation of our five county parks – Oppenheim, Krull, West Canal Marina, Royalton Ravine and Burmaster at Bond Lake – is also under the DPW umbrella. The county has a first-class parks system and I hope everyone will take full advantage of the many amenities that can be found in our parks. Across our five-park system, you can find splash pads, playgrounds, hiking trails, boat launches, picnic shelters and even an internationally ranked disc golf course. That’s right, the Bond Lake Disc Golf Course at Burmaster Park was recently rated as the 41st best course in the world, on the list for the second year in a row. And that was out of over 10,000 rated courses. Building on that success, DPW will be opening a new disc golf course at Royalton Ravine Park this summer.
DPW is also working in partnership with NYSDOT to provide a new entrance to Oppenheim Park. The new entrance will be aligned with the intersection at Witmer Road. For anyone who has tried to exit that park, especially to make a left-hand turn, they know it can be a challenge. This reconfiguration on Niagara Falls Boulevard will provide a safer way to enter and leave the park.
Our parks are terrific and, for those who have not reserved their shelter yet for that family reunion or other special event, there is still time to do so. Go to www.niagaracounty.com, click on “Parks” under the “Departments” tab, and you will see information on how to make your reservation.
As always, I want to thank Public Works Commissioner Garret Meal and his entire team for the work they do for Niagara County residents.