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EVANS OFFICIALS BACK $1 DEAL TO EXPAND STURGEON POINT MARINA

Evans officials asked Erie County legislators Tuesday to sell the town 23 acres -- or better than half -- of county-owned land at Sturgeon Point for $1.

It appears likely the sale will go through, with a few strings attached:

The land must be developed for parks and recreation or it will revert to the county.

All residents of the county must have equal access.

One immediate aim of Evans is to expand the present Sturgeon Point Marina, where people from across the county launch their boats.

Legislator Gregory Olma, D-Buffalo, apologized for what he described as a misguided attempt by the county to sell all 53 acres of the land, including 1000 feet of spectacular lakefront, for private development four years ago.

"It was the wrong thing to do," said Olma, chairman of the Legislature's Energy and Environment Committee.

The attempt failed when bids were so low the county declined to sell.

Although there is no formal plan from the town yet, Richard Tobe, county commissioner of environment and planning, said the county might transfer the deed before the plan is put together.

Olma said the Legislature would relinquish power if it gives up the right to review the plan before it is passed.

Tobe said he would submit the draft of the transfer deed for the Legislature to review.

A preliminary proposal by the Sturgeon Point Marina Advisory Board raises the possibility that 23 acres between the lakefront and Sturgeon Point Road may exceed marina expansion needs.

"If this entire parcel of land is deemed more than should be made available for this purpose, we propose as a contingency plan a scaled-down parcel," the proposal states. "This parcel would require a study to determine the size needed to provide enough parking, recreational needs and an exit road that would discharge vehicles near the Erie County Water Treatment Plant. The new exit would relieve traffic impacting residences."

Presumably, any unused part of the 23 acres would revert to the county.

Joseph C. Mackenburg, chairman of the Sturgeon Point Marina Advisory Board, said there is a shortage of parking and vehicles sometimes are backed up onto Old Lake Shore Road.

Officials spoke of their desire to possess the steep half mile of spectacular bluff, looking down on a stony beach and backed by acres of trees and brush.

"It's really a gorgeous place," said Clem Janisch, co-chairman of the advisory board.

Mackenburg said he would like to see development similar to the Erie Basin Marina, including a restaurant to enhance the marina.

The transfer resolution, endorsed by the Energy and Environment Committee, will go before the full Legislature April 2.