NIAGARA FALLS – When the city gets a 50-acre parcel of land near Hyde Park Golf Course from the New York Power Authority, it’s going to come with a little something extra.
The Porter Road parcel, located between the golf course and an old railroad yard just west of Interstate 190, also will come with about 9,000 cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Niagara River.
The land is a fairly large parcel with rail access, unlike other single tracts of land in Niagara Falls.
“I think the city sees it as an economic development parcel,” said Thomas J. DeSantis, the city’s senior planner.
The land is to be transferred to the city under terms of the settlement deal between the local governments and school districts that host the authority’s Niagara Power Project. A final date for the transfer has not been determined.
It originally was used as a location for putting soil and rock excavated during the construction of the nearby conduits for the power project. Since then, the authority has owned the land but has not used it for other purposes, said spokeswoman Connie Cullen.
The dredged material has been tested, and the city’s Office of Environmental Services has determined the material coming from the river “will not impair the soil on the Porter Road parcel,” according to a memo from Mayor Paul A. Dyster to the City Council.
The parcel also has also been found to be “clean” following tests conducted by the Power Authority, according to Dyster’s memo, citing a review by the city’s Planning Department.
The sediment will be coming out of the river as part of the Frog Island Habitat Improvement Project, which also stems from an agreement tied to the federal relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.
The Frog Island area is located between Motor and Strawberry islands, near the southern tip of Grand Island. The island, which used to be four acres, eroded and was no longer visible in aerial photographs starting in 1985, according to planning documents.
The purpose of the project is to re-create marsh and a submerged aquatic vegetation habitat that will support wildlife in the river.
The work will include the addition of some underwater plants to improve the natural habitats for wading birds and fish, said Jill Spisiak Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
The river project is one of several “habitat improvement projects” that the Power Authority agreed to undertake as part of agreements for the federal relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.
Even though the land has yet to be formally transferred, the Power Authority asked the city for permission to deposit the dredged material, a request that was unanimously approved by the Council on July 24.
All of the dredged material would be placed in upland areas on the site, not in any wetlands that may be there, and would be placed on site no later than July of next year, according to a June 25 letter from the authority to the city.
Having the dredged material on the site will actually be beneficial toward future uses of the land because the soil could be used to level off some low spots and improve drainage, said DeSantis, the city’s planner.
Gill Creek runs through the site, and there are some suspected wetlands on the eastern side, but none that would appear to meet state or federal standards, DeSantis said.
Still, the city would not do anything to impact the wetlands because of the necessary ecological function they perform, he said.
Based on the size, the rail access and the lack of any close neighbors, the site has potential from the city’s perspective.
“This would be a valuable redevelopment parcel for the right development,” he said.