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Greenway funds reallocated for park around Old Stone Chimney

WHEATFIELD – The $200,000 in Niagara River Greenway money that was allocated for moving the Old Stone Chimney in Niagara Falls will instead be used to develop a small park around it.

The 60-ton chimney, originally built in 1750 by the French, was moved last year from behind a vacant warehouse to its new prominent spot right off the Niagara Scenic Parkway on the Upper Niagara River.

The committee that controls Greenway funds in Niagara County voted unanimously Tuesday to reallocate the money it approved in 2014 for moving the 266-year-old chimney.

As it turned out, the New York Power Authority paid to move the chimney to a roughly one-acre site between the parkway and the riverbank, west of the Power Authority’s water intakes for the Niagara Power Project.

Sherry Shepherd-Corulli, grant writer for the City of Niagara Falls, said the $200,000 can be used to develop the planned RiverView Heritage Park around the chimney. The Host Communities Standing Committee decided that the reallocation would be acceptable.

Shepherd-Corulli said $35,000 will be used by the city to hire a consultant.

“We’re going to do historical interpretation of the chimney,” she said.

The other $165,000 is budgeted for materials and labor for the park. “It’s not going to be a lot bigger than it is now,” Shepherd-Corulli said.

The chimney was originally part of a French fort. The two-story chimney has survived two fires and three relocations.

Before it was moved last year, it was half-buried in a parkway embankment near John D. Daly Boulevard.

The chimney, regarded as the second-oldest masonry structure west of the Hudson River, was taken apart and reassembled stone by stone at its new site.

On Tuesday, the Host Communities Standing Committee was also introduced to Jeanne A. Leccese, the new executive director of the Niagara River Greenway Commission. She started Sept. 6 in the $70,000-a-year post that had been vacant since the retirement of Rob Belue two years ago.

Leccese had been a senior research coordinator at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture for the past three years.

The Philadelphia-area native has worked in various posts in upstate New York for the past 20 years, including a role as a senior planner in Tompkins County.

The standing committee chose Thomas M. O’Donnell, Niagara Falls deputy corporation counsel, as its new chairman, replacing Cynthia A. Bianco, the former Falls school superintendent, who retired in June. Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee S. Wallace will be vice chairman.

email: tprohaskas@buffnews.com

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