Griffon Park would be restored as a passive recreation area and some other LaSalle parks could get improved athletic facilities under proposals that will go to the City Council on Monday.
If approved by the City Council, the city will apply for state grants totaling $829,000 for improvements to Griffon Park, Jayne Park and the 93rd and 91st Street recreation areas.
In addition, Occidental Chemical Corp. and Olin Corp. are required to invest $225,000 as part of their EPA-ordered cleanup of the 102nd Street Landfill.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants the companies to use the money to build a walkway along the waterfront on the eastern edge of the dump to provide public viewing access to the river. However, the city administration has taken the position that it would rather have the money to make improvements to Griffon Park, according to City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino and Dan R. Gagliardo, director of environmental services and inspections.
Construction of the walkway is contingent upon the city's willingness to accept the legal responsibility to operate and maintain it once construction is completed. Corporation Counsel Robert P. Merino said the City Council would have to agree on the settlement figure and whether or not it wants to accept responsibility for the walkway. The city has until Dec. 1 to decide.
If the city decides not to accept responsibility for the walkway, the companies would be obligated to give the city $225,000 to be used for improvements to Griffon Park, "including improvements that will enhance viewing access of the Niagara River and its shoreline and habitat," according to terms outlined by the EPA. Restaino said "a mini viewing tower" to be located in Griffon Park has been discussed as a substitute for the walkway. Either a walkway or tower would create maintenance and liability concerns for the city, he said.
Griffon Park is adjacent to the 102nd Street Landfill and is the site of the city's only boat launch facility. It is also one of the few access points to the Niagara River controlled by the city. The city has been without the use of the park, except for the launch, for the past 10-15 years because of the litigation over and remediation of the dump.
One grant application would be to the state Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Environmental Protection Fund for $329,000 for the restoration of the park. If the City Council supports the administration's plans and approves the grant applications and a cash settlement in lieu of the walkway, Gagliardo said the city would build a walkway if it gets at least $100,000 in grant money for Griffon Park. Part of the city's reason for wanting the cash from Occidental and Olin is to use it as a match toward the possible grant money, he said. Gagliardo said the EPA would be satisfied if the city applies for grant money for the walkway even if the city gets turned down.
In addition to the Griffon Park improvements, if the city is successful in obtaining the grant money, Jayne Park would be revamped for basketball and tennis and 93rd Street for football and baseball, they said. The LaSalle Football Little League currently plays at Jayne Park on Cayuga Island, where parking is a problem, Restaino and Gagliardo said.