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Town issues proclamations honoring Arbor Day and local environmental advocates

Sat, Apr 22nd 2023 07:00 am

Story and Photos by Alice Gerard

Three proclamations celebrating Arbor Day and two local environmental advocates, Dorothy Westhafer and Ron Rezabek, were read at Monday’s Grand Island Town Board meeting.

Rezabek, who died Aug. 3, 2018, was a longtime member of the Grand Island Conservation Advisory Board. An avid hunter and fisherman, Rezabek grew up on Grand Island, exploring its creeks and woods. He was a member of the Rod and Gun Club, Ducks Unlimited, and the Grand Island Fishing Club. According to the proclamation, Rezabek was a volunteer for Buffalo-Niagara Waterkeeper. Together with his team, which included his wife, Denise, he tested the water quality of Island creeks. His focus was Spicer Creek, and he organized a walk along the creek bed. He created a plan for remediation of the creek but, as of yet, the only section of the creek to be remediated was the section within River Oaks Golf Club. In memory of Rezabek, the White Trail at the Nike Base will be renamed the Ronald Rezabek Trail and will be dedicated at the Arbor Day events on April 29.

Westhafer, who died Feb. 12, 2021, was a longtime member of the Grand Island Conservation Board and its predecessor, the Conservation Commission. For more than 10 years, she served as the chair. She was a charter member of the Western New York Land Conservancy and, according to the proclamation, supported their efforts to conserve open space. Two of the spaces that she supported conserving were the Stella Niagara Preserve and the Gulf Wilderness, both in Niagara County. She also helped to found Quality Quest, an environmental advocacy group dedicated to educating the public on local environmental and land development issues. In addition, she was a dedicated artist and she worked for the establishment of the Kenan Arts Center in Lockport. She taught art history, was a docent at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and her favorite art medium was watercolors. She enjoyed hiking and often crossed Big Six Mile Creek, stepping from one boulder to the next, and climbing up an often-muddy bank. She was known to suggest that a bridge would be a good addition to that area, located near the Nike Base. In memory of Westhafer, the bridge over Big Six Mile Creek will be dedicated to her and will be known as the Dorothy Westhafer Bridge.

In other business, the Grand Island Town Board voted to

√ Approve a special event permit for the KidBiz Young Entrepreneur Program, to be held June 17 in Town Commons.

√ Approve, by a vote of 4-1, with Councilman Mike Madigan dissenting, the purchase of eight copiers at a cost of up to $35,000 from Toshiba Business Solutions.

√ Reappoint Roger Cook to the Economic Development Advisory Board for a term ending Dec. 31, 2025.

√ Appoint Andrew Stanbro to the Community Relations Committee, with a term expiring Dec. 31, 2023   

√ Appoint Vienna Haak to the Board of Assessment Review, with a term ending Sept. 30, 2027.

√ Approve additional parking spots for Pinnacle Island, subject to landscaping being added.

√ Hire Daniella Salvatore as a full-time recreation attendant. Her hours will be split between the Golden Age Center and the town Recreation Department.

√ Grant a special use permit renewal to Arlene Clarke to operate a home operation/barbershop.

Diane Evans from the Conservation Advisory Board accepted all three proclamations on behalf of the Board. During the presentation of the proclamations honoring Ron Rezabek and Dorothy Westhafer for their contributions to the local environment, Evans was joined by Town Supervisor John Whitney, as well as Town Board members Christian Bahleda, Tom Digati, Pete Marston, and Mike Madigan. During the presentation of the proclamation celebrating Arbor Day, Evans was joined by the Town Supervisor, the Town Board, and Highway Superintendent Richard Crawford.

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