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LEWISTON – Ernest C. Palmer, a town councilman since 2007, abruptly left his seat on the board on Feb. 14, retiring to spend more time to travel and devote to his business as a tax accountant.

On Monday, Town Board members said they will look for a replacement to fill Palmer’s seat and will accept applications for the open seat until March 5. Palmer had nearly two years left on his term when he retired.

Palmer, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully against Dennis J. Brochey Sr. for town supervisor in November, but said that defeat had no role in his decision to leave office. He said he wanted to pursue other interests.

Brochey said, “In the short period of time I worked with Mr. Palmer, I enjoyed my time with him. Matter of fact, when he first sent me his resignation I responded – ‘rejected.’ He definitely will be missed.”

Councilman Michael Marra thanked him publicly for his many years of public service.

In another matter, the board received a presentation from Nancy Smith, executive director of the Western New York Land Conservancy, on its plan to begin the Stella Niagara Preserve, which she said was “probably their most ambitious project ever.” The $3.1 million project will preserve 29 acres of shoreline on the west side of River Road along the Niagara River using $2.3 million in grants from the Niagara River Greenway. An additional $800,000 is being sought in funding from business, foundations and donors.

The property west of Lower River Road had been held since 1907 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Stella Niagara and was being sold both to preserve the land and to help the sisters in their economic future.

“This will become a place for public access,” said Smith. “Our intention is to have nature paths, places to launch a kayak, to fish, to bring a canoe down there. This will become the first not for profit-owned property along the Niagara River. It takes the burden of maintaining the property off the municipality. We are embracing that opportunity.”

email: nfischer@buffnews.com