Creation of a new bike path in North Buffalo took a step forward Tuesday.
The Common Council agreed to allow the city to acquire a small sliver of property and sign a lease agreement for a former rail bed. The actions help the project move to a design stage.
The Council action accommodates a trail from Kenmore Avenue south to the LaSalle Metro Rail Station and improves an existing trail known as Minnesota Linear Park, said Timothy Trabold, transportation programs manager for the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council.
The rails-to-trails project in North Buffalo has been the source of community debate, and people who have been active on this issue said Tuesday that they didn’t have a lot of details.
“We are encouraged that they are at least taking this baby step in completing this bike trail,” said Dave Bradley, a member of the North Buffalo Greenway Preservation Club.
“There is still much that we don’t know about. We’re waiting to hear the rest of the details.”
The city is paying $15,900 for a sliver of property owned by My Kids Child Care Center, which is behind the LaSalle Metro Rail Station.
The city is also finalizing a 10-year lease with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for the use of an abandoned railroad corridor, and the authority is not charging the city.
The bike path will connect with one on the north side of Kenmore Avenue, Trabold said.
Residents said they would like more information.
“We’re kind of in the dark on the path the city is taking on this,” said James Rozanski, an architect and University District resident.
“The community has been pushing the city to do something,” Rozanski said, adding that the project’s federal funds will run out if they are not spent. “We’ve had to pursue the city more than the city coming to us with it.”
The project is still in the design phase, and it needs to be bid by October 2014, said Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak.
The city’s share of the federally funded project is 20 percent of the total cost.
In other Council action Tuesday, lawmakers reluctantly acknowledged the acquisition of former School 51, at 101 Hertel Ave.
“Whether we want this property or not, we’re stuck with it,” said North Council Member Joseph Golombek.
The city is required to maintain vacant schools when they are not used for educational purposes, and the Council received and filed the item.