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HORIZONS HEARS PLEA FOR 'AVERAGE' USER LACKAWANNA RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT INDUSTRIES ALONG WATERFRONT

While the Horizons Waterfront Commission is planning a clean, accessible and prosperous waterfront, some asked for consideration for the "small time" water user Tuesday night.

"Access seems to be focused on people who are willing to make or have already made a large monetary investment," said Robert Muffley, a former president of Western New York Sailboard Association.

"Please give some thought to people who are not making a large investment, other than in taxes, for developing the waterfront."

He was among 50 people at Amsdell Junior High School in Hamburg for the first of three meetings the commission is holding to get public input on its draft document on goals and objectives. Commission members said public input is vital to developing a plan for the 90 miles of waterfront in Erie County.

"I can't think of anything more important at this point," Edward C. Cosgrove, commission chairman, said.

As an example, he said he never really understood the needs of sailboarders until several asked to be kept in mind when plans are being made for the waterfront.

Albert Gold, president of the sailboard group, which has 150 to 165 members, said sailboarders use any place along the waterfront they can. Many go to Gallagher Beach south of the Small Boat Harbor.

"We'd like to be away from boaters," Gold said. "We're a threat to them, and they're a threat to us. And we'd like to be away from swimmers."

Daniel C. Sitler of Saratoga Associates said the planning process is about 40 percent complete with the presentation of the draft goals and objectives.

"We are right on the brink of casting these statements in concrete," he said.

The three goals in the draft report are to provide a waterfront that enriches the quality of life, to rejuvenate the waterfront into a clean, inviting and healthy environment and to achieve a prosperous waterfront that advances environmental quality and the quality of life.

The report also says the waterfront's primary use is not to create jobs, which would be a desirable but secondary effect, and the waterfront should not be developed into a tourist trap but a vital functioning place for county residents with supporting activities for tourists.

"I don't think that you should underestimate or overlook the importance of tourism," Hamburg Supervisor Jack Quinn said.

Quinn, while lauding the commission's activities, summed up some residents' comments, when he urged the group to "get on with it."

David Rebmann, co-chairman of the South Shore Coalition, told the commission that lake levels should be taken into account when planning the waterfront's future.

"That lake, which is by the way is up about six inches, . . . has a major impact on whatever you're going to plan," Rebmann said. "Effective understanding of this fluctuating lake level is critical and crucial."

Several Lackawanna residents said the commission must be firm in its plan to clean up hazardous areas along the waterfront. They also said they did not want Lackawanna's waterfront to be ignored and filled with heavy industry.

"The citizens of Lackawanna will not let the Horizons Commission or any municipality up and down this waterfront centrally locate and keep all those industries in Lackawanna," Cheryl Panfil said.

Cosgrove said he was disappointed more people did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

"It's essential we continue the dialogue," he said.

Public meetings will be held at 7 p.m today in the Waterfront School, 95 Fourth St., and at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Tonawanda City Council chambers, 200 Niagara St.

The commission plans to adopt the final statement of goals and objectives next month.

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