LEWISTON – Town Board members lashed out during their meeting Thursday at a proposal being introduced by State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, in the New York State Legislature that would strictly limit the use of Greenway funding along the Niagara River corridor.
The proposal announced last week is designed to refocus the money after it was learned that nearly half of the $50 million spent since 2004 was not being used within lands and waters identified as the Greenway Focus Area, according to a report from the Partnership for Public Good.
“It’s a shame that these individuals are looking for legislation to be passed without even addressing the concerned communities. How about a phone call?” said Supervisor Steven Reiter.
The Town Board is working on a plan for an $8 million Lewiston Civic Center that would be built on Creek Road adjacent to Lewiston-Porter Central School. The Greenway Commission has already rejected the plan, saying it was not in keeping with the planned use of Greenway funds. But Reiter said that the town receives $510,000 a year from the New York Power Authority in Greenway funding and the final decision on how to spend the money is up to the host communities, not the Greeway Commission.
But the proposed legislation would take it out of all of their hands.
Under the proposal a narrow band of lands, “no more than one thousand feet from the shorelines of the Niagara River, its major tributaries and Lake Erie,” and limited in urban areas could be designated for Greenway funds.
Reiter said most of Lewiston and the school districts would be not be in this area.“Our concern is if this happens we can’t do anything above River Road,” Reiter said.
The board adopted a resolution that said it never would have agreed to the Greenway Plan with the restrictions, and any change would violate its contractual rights and “ignore the uncompensated burdens borne by the Town of Lewiston and its citizens for half a century.”
Several residents spoke out against the planned Lewiston Civic Center prior to the board meeting. They debated the location of the center, the cost of the project and the location of the referendum being held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 15 in the Town Hall.