It took years for Evans to get the property from Erie County, but now that the town owns this large parcel along the lake, it’s being put to good use.
Construction of the Sturgeon Point Nature Trail is expected to begin this season on more than 26 acres off Sturgeon Point Road, just east of the Sturgeon Point Marina.
“This can only enhance the marina,” said Evans Supervisor Keith E. Dash. “It’s going to be nice.”
The best part, Dash said, is it’s not going to cost the town any money.
The nature trail is moving forward thanks to a $300,000 grant that Evans obtained from the state several years ago, when the town first sought the property from the county, said Sandra L. Brant, town planning director.
Plans show a 22-foot-wide asphalt driveway off Sturgeon Point Road, near Beechwood Road, leading to a 13-space parking lot.
The area around the parking lot will be landscaped and include two picnic shelters.
The trail, paved with mulch, begins at the lot and extends 1,850 feet through the 26-acre property, half of which is wetlands, Brant said.
The trail branches off in two directions, with one path looping back around to the parking lot and the other leading to the marina. It then opens up onto a large lawn on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie.
Plans show a 16-foot, octagon-shaped gazebo at the site, envisioned as a location for purposes such as small concerts and wedding photos.
“There’s room for development to enhance it,” Dash said. “Nothing says that down the road when more funding becomes available, we can’t develop more trails.”
The town is still looking to bid out the work so the project could be completed by the end of the construction season.
This site has a long history. Along with a neighboring parcel wedged between Sturgeon Point and Larkin roads, it was acquired by the county decades ago through tax foreclosure.
County officials sought to sell the two parcels – totaling 53 acres – at public auction during the mid-1990s, which sparked debate about whether to preserve the land or open it up for private development to boost the tax rolls.
In the end, the auction brought only a $26,000 bid, leaving the county wondering what to do next.
Evans officials eventually asked the county to sell the property to the town for $1, and it appeared that the deal went through.
But ownership of the property remained cloudy.
Town officials contended that the transfer was made in 1999 but that they never got the deed. Erie County officials said the county rescinded its offer in 2004, because it couldn’t afford to give away lakefront property.
A few years ago, Evans officials reached out to then-County Executive Chris Collins, who seemed agreeable to the transfer.
The county turned over both parcels to Evans for $1 at the end of 2011.
Meanwhile, Dash said, the town’s Office of Community Development is looking at possible uses for the second vacant parcel, between Sturgeon and Larkin roads.