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The state will review a Youngstown contractor's proposal to build a multimillion dollar resort on state land near Fort Niagara State Park and other ideas for developing the site at a hearing next month.

The hearing, set for 7 p.m. June 28 in the former Artpark offices in Fort Niagara State Park, will air arguments about the private development of the site and utilization of some historic buildings for commercial purposes.

The Niagara Frontier State Parks and Recreation Commission at its meeting Tuesday at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island scheduled the hearing.

For months the state Office of Parks and Recreation has been reviewing a proposal by Youngstown contractor W. Kirk Hastings to develop approximately four acres near Old Fort Niagara into a hotel with a conference area, a restaurant overlooking the Niagara River and an expanded marina.

The proposed site is a heavily wooded area on the west end of the 500-acre state park on Route 18 north of Youngstown, a few hundred yards from the entrance to Old Fort Niagara.

Hastings would renovate four buildings once used for a U.S. naval base. The buildings, which predate the state park, include the former U.S. Naval Reserve Center, which would be converted into a 100-room hotel.

But state park officials are quick to point out that the hearing is meant to open up the playing field of ideas, not to decide on the merits of just one.

The commission also discussed what to do with the burned-out casino at Beaver Island State Park now that an architectural firm, Kideney Architects of Amherst, has been selected to design it.

The commissioners discussed keeping the structure's original facade the same but changing the interior somewhat to better accommodate the public.

"The consultant has offered to redesign the interior so it would be more functional for parties and other functions," said Mario J. Pirastru, western regional director of the state park's office.

The commissioners also learned that the water tower at Beaver Island was demolished at a cost of $10,300 and that rehabilitating the irrigation system for the park's golf course will cost $431,172.

The commission also:

Heard committee reports on the Wilson-Tuscarora State Park Master Plan calling for many improvements to the park, including better roads, more parking and enhancements to the park's nature trails.

"The master plan is just about complete," said Pirastru. "All that is needed now is the final environmental assessment."

Heard a report on the status of Artpark's new season, which begins Thursday.

David Midland, Artpark director, said the New York Power Authority has pledged $100,000 a year for the next five years to maintain the park's hiking trails.

He also noted that the Buffalo Philharmonic will hold 19 concerts during the season, "a substantial increase" over previous years.

The commissioners also were told that Artpark's main theater will receive a $130,000 emergency roof repair.

Learned about a proposed new state park along the Niagara Gorge called, appropriately enough, Gorge View Park.

The park, near the Schoellkopf Geological Museum in Niagara Falls, would include a comfort station, an amphitheater, picnic area and space for 25 tour buses.

"It's a new park that we've asked for a number of years to be developed," Pirastru said. "What we're trying to do is expand the experience of people coming to the falls."

Discussed turning over to the Town of Lewiston the Joseph Davis State Park Pool, which has been closed the past two seasons due to budget constraints.

Heard that replacing the emergency stairs and railing at the observation tower overlooking Niagara Falls will cost $407,000.

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