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New Grand Island park, Lockport nature preserve among projects seeking Greenway endorsement

Town of Lockport parkland N
The late William F. Lytle donated land off North Canal Road to the Town of Lockport that will be used as a nature preserve. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

Plans for a new park and a new nature preserve are among four new proposals vying for the endorsement of the Niagara River Greenway Commission.

The four proposals, up for a vote in November, are in Grand Island, the Town of Lockport, the City of Niagara Falls, as well as the upper Niagara River.

12:13 p.m.: Officials in Niagara Falls have proposed about $830,000 in improvements to a comfort station and lounge attached to the ice pavilion in the city's Hyde Park.

The project calls for brick work, roof, door and window replacement, as well as upgrades to banquet, restroom and shower facilities in the 7,000-square-foot building.

City officials, who said in their application they plan to request $200,000 in Greenway funds, have applied for a $400,000 grant for the project from the state parks office.

Here's a story from earlier this year about plans to upgrade the ice pavilion itself.

Fish habitat study

The Research Foundation of the State University of New York has proposed a three-year study of fish habitat in the Buffalo harbor area and the upper Niagara River.

The project, which has a cost of $735,413, includes nearly $250,000 in financial support from SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, according to the application.

Sponsors will apply for funding from the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee.

A fifth proposal in the latest round of review, submitted by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, is a revision of a previous proposal submitted in January. The revised plan calls for the development of a regional habitat restoration strategy, and includes an expanded scope due to the receipt of a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Click here to view the latest proposal.

11:25 a.m.: The plan submitted by the Town of Grand Island call for a new 230-acre park, dubbed Scenic Woods-Bicentennial Park. The design includes more than five miles of recreational and nature trails.

The town bought 206 acres of a 270-acre parcel owned by Scenic Woods Development in 1999 for $250,000, according to Buffalo News archives. The land is located on the eastern part of the island, south of Ransom Road near East River Road.

Town officials, in their submission to the commission, say the total budget for the first two phases of the project is $902,000. The Town Board expects to finish a study of wetlands on the parcel in October, with design work believed to be starting next summer.

Officials estimate the first five years of operations and maintenance cost at the park to be $20,000.

Click here to read the town's full proposal before the commission. To read a master plan for the park, authored by Environmental Design & Research, click here.

Lockport plans nature preserve

The Town of Lockport is moving forward with plans for a nature preserve just north of the Erie Canal.

Most of the land was donated by a retired lumber yard owner who had initially planned to raise beef cattle there. Here's a story on the donation I did in May 2009.

Mr. William F. Lytle passed away a little more than a week after I interviewed him.

The project, to be known as Lytle Nature Preserve, will be connected by an asphalt trail to the state's Canalway Trail, according to the town's application to the commission.

The new nature preserve will have a total cost of $174,435, the town said. Town officials are plannig to cover about $80,000 of the costs in their 2011 budget, and plan to request nearly $95,000 from Greenway sources.

News Niagara Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska had an update on the project from the town's perspective in this June piece. Here's another story about the park, written in early June.

In terms of process, the Greenway commission has no funding power; that control is maintained by several standing committees and handled through a separate application process.

Those standing committees are allocated a total of $9 million per year.

The commission was created to develop a plan for a continuous, linear system of parks, trails and green spaces along the Niagara River from Buffalo to Youngstown.

Its 2007 plan -- which called for the creation of a "world-class corridor" -- came with a total funding allocation through 2057 of $450 million. The commission has reviewed more than 100 proposals since publishing its plan.

Check back for more about the other three two new proposals, as well as a revision of a previous proposal, submitted this round.

--Aaron Besecker

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