The Village Board received a lot of good news from Niagara County Sportfishing Coordinator William Hilts Jr. on Monday night, but board members found out they may have hooked the big one if Hilts' plan for a fish hatchery in Niagara County goes forward.
"A shining star for the future would be to create our own fish hatchery and the number one recommended place is Joseph Davis State Park," Hilts said. "It's not easy, but the money is out there and the support is out there."
Hilts said he would like to see Niagara River Greenway funding from New York Power Authority funds used to support a local hatchery, which could become a tourist attraction in its own right. Hilts said the runs for spawning fish in these types of hatcheries are "spectacular."
He said the Salmon River Hatchery, which currently supplies fish to Lake Ontario and other public waters, is located in "the middle of nowhere" in Altmar and attracts 5,000 visitors a year.
"There have been a lot of plans for Joseph Davis State Park, but we couldn't find a better use," said Mayor Richard F. Soluri.
Hilts said the Lower Niagara River has attracted a lot of activity in the past few months, including an article in the New York Times featuring Lewiston fishing, as well as positive visits from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Convention.
"Everybody caught fish, had a good time and the weather could not have been better. They were thoroughly impressed," said Hilts.
Hilts said all the recent warm weather has been a problem for the fall salmon run, which can't survive in warm waters -- as warm as 69 degrees at Devil's Hole in October.
He said the Salmon River Fish Hatchery has gone to tributaries, such as Burt Dam and Oak Orchard to collect salmon eggs.
The board was also informed of the need for a business to step in and offer a weigh station for the fall Trout and Salmon derby.
Soluri said he would also like to see fishing licenses offered at locations in the village outside of the Village Hall so that people can buy licenses on the weekends and evenings.
In another matter, the board discussed the idea of a bed tax for hotels, specifically a large hotel like the new Barton Hill on the River, which is expected to impact services in the village.
Attorney Paul Grenga said cities are allowed to charge a bed tax, but the village would need state approval to take part of the tax already charged by Niagara County. Grenga will bring a proposal for discussion to the next board meeting.
In another matter, the board approved hiring the engineering firm of Floyd Albert and Associates of Williamsville for $42,000 to move the historic Piper Law office (also known as the Little Blue House) across Center Street into Academy Park, at Center and Ninth streets. The move is funded by a state transportation enhancement grant.
There is no date set to move the house, which will be used as a visitor center.