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Power coalition goals for more space aired in Lewiston
Village Board gets presentation on widening
the definition of corridor for Greenway funds

Niagara Power Coalition staff member Samuel M. Ferraro made his presentation to the Village Board on Tuesday prior to the Greenway Commission meeting in Erie County.

Ferraro, a member of the Niagara County Economic Development Commission and executive director of the county's Industrial Development Agency, presented several poster-size maps to illustrate what Niagara Power Coalition members want -- more space.

He said the seven members of the coalition, which includes the towns of Lewiston and Niagara; the City of Niagara Falls; Niagara County; and school districts of Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara Falls have rejected the narrow definition of the Niagara River corridor, which Ferraro said was thrust upon the consultant by environmental groups.

Ferraro said the three school districts and the Town of Niagara, which has no waterfront access, would be required to forfeit any rights to Greenway funds.

"The proposed plan says there is $9 million per year, and that's true, but it makes no mention of the host communities [of the Niagara Power Coalition]. The Niagara Power Coalition negotiated for lost tax revenues. We negotiated in good faith," Ferraro said.

He said the coalition had proposed a much wider interpretation that would create a corridor defined by municipalities and doesn't cut across the middle of communities. He said the coalition plan also proposed linking the Niagara River communities to existing trails such as the Seaway Trail (along Lake Ontario), the Wine Trail and the Erie Canal Heritage Corridor.

Under this plan, all of Niagara County would be linked to the funding, Ferraro said.

Mayor Richard F. Soluri, who also is a Greenway commissioner, agreed with the coalition's concerns, saying, "It's a long-term, 50-year plan. We're trying to make the whole region better. This is a chance of a lifetime, and we have to include as many communities as we can."

The Greenway Commission cannot move forward until all communities agree unanimously on a plan, Ferraro said, and each community has veto power.

In another matter, the board discussed the continuing power outages with representatives from National Grid.

Marc Conboy, a reliability engineer for National Grid, said that over the past year, problems at the Swann Road substation have been addressed by adding a new transformer bank. He said a multiyear line-rebuilding project will begin this year at the Lewiston substation.

Conboy also told the board that there was a "danger tree program," which removes diseased, decayed and dangerous trees.

"I'd like to say that the power would never go out, but I can't say that with an overhead system. Since we started to talk, we have taken a focused look at this area and are putting more money and labor into it," Conboy said.

Glynn L. Matthews, an account manager for National Grid, said that any time there is an outage, he encourages as many people as possible to call, so that based on calls received, the utility can determine where the outage started.

"This speeds up the restoration process, so we don't have to patrol the whole line," Matthews said.

Police Chief Ronald Winkley praised National Grid crews for their "outstanding job" in the recent ice storm.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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