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More support sought for Niagara Greenway

The vision of a Niagara River Greenway was presented Tuesday night in an effort to garner backing from leaders of the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.

The presentation in Tonawanda City Hall was the sixth in a series of Niagara River Greenway Commission meetings held to get support from municipalities for the plan to create a system of parks and trails in the communities that line the waterfront.

Rob Belue, executive director of the project, said the plan was derived from almost 300 project ideas and input from residents and government officials spanning 18 months.

"It was created locally, it's not being forced down our throats by Albany," he said. "It's up to Western New York to build the Greenway."

Belue's PowerPoint presentation gave an overview of the plan -- from the "Goals of the Niagara River Greenway" to "Implementation Concepts." But he stressed the project was only in the "vision" stage and he was seeking support for it.

"It's a vision, not a master plan," he said. "It's not etched in stone. The public decides what they would like to see as a plan."

Belue said initial funding would come from a relicensing agreement for the Niagara Power Project negotiated with the New York Power Authority. It calls for $450 million over 50 years, with annual amounts of $3 million to Niagara County and $2 million to Erie County municipalities, respectively. But the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda and the towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda and Amherst were not included .

Tonawanda Mayor Ronald Pilozzi said the five municipalities not included in the settlement are involved in an effort to be included and if that happens, "that could be a funding source for us."

Concerns about funding were aired during the meeting, attended mostly by government officials. Belue said all municipalities will have to look at other funding sources.


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