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Plans for scenic overlook are scrapped

The Town of Hamburg has dropped plans for a scenic overlook at the site of the former Foit's Restaurant on Lake Shore Road.

Instead, the Town Board is seeking to shift $250,000 in state funding to fix up its Seaway Trail Visitors Center, about two miles to the south.

At its meeting Monday, the board approved a resolution asking the state to shift the funds targeted for the overlook under the Community Capital Assistance Program in 2004.

"There's risk in moving funds like this to another project," Councilman Tom Quatroche said. The state could deny the switch and cancel the funding.

But "we need the funds more at the Seaway Trail Visitors Center," he said.

With no sale agreement in place with the owner of the Foit's property, plans for the overlook have stalled, Quatroche said.

If the property owner doesn't clear the site of overgrowth and fix a "chewed-up parking lot," the town will have the work done and bill the owner, he said. The restaurant building at the site near Camp Road was demolished in 2007.

The visitors center, on Lake Shore near Cloverbank, would get additional parking, increased handicap access, improved site drainage and general building repairs.

A volunteer group that operates the center is seeking a memorandum of understanding with the town to formalize the arrangement and move the center toward financial self-sufficiency.

The group could perform fundraising and user events to cover such operating costs as electricity and heat, said William P. McKeever, board member of the Hamburg center and of the Seaway Trail organization.

The center, a former Wanakah Water Co. building, was completed in 2006 with $670,000 in state and town funds.

With 35 volunteers, the nonprofit group could ramp up the use of the building, particularly in the tourism off-season, by organizing educational events and a monthly speaker series, McKeever said.

"The price tag is right," Councilwoman Joan Kesner said. "We're not paying you, you're doing it out of the love of your heart." The Town Board withheld action in order to review the proposed memorandum of understanding.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 454-mile long scenic byway along lakes Erie and Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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