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TREES WILL ADD TO GENESEE STREET IMPROVEMENTS

A healthy dose of greenery will be injected into an older part of Cheektowaga, with road improvements scheduled to start this summer along a section of Genesee Street.

The $9 million state project slated to begin in July will upgrade Genesee Street from the city line to the Cayuga Road-Dick Road intersection, as well as add new drainage, curbs and sidewalks along the entire stretch, state Department of Transportation officials said.

In addition, the project includes planting more than 200, two-and-one-half-inch caliper trees along Genesee and its side streets, plans show. There also are plans for a small triangular-shaped sitting park where Ellwood Place and Beryl Drive will be realigned, plans show.

Town officials, of course, welcome the road improvements, but they are particularly pleased about the proposed landscaping.

Genesee Street dissects an older part of Cheektowaga, where the town has been trying to pump new life into the neighborhood in recent years. The landscaping should be a nice touch to the town's neighborhood-preservation efforts.

"You'll see a noticeable difference at the end of the construction project," said Daniel Ulatowski, a Building Department inspector. "I'm hoping it will act as a catalyst for that older retail corridor. It needs a boost."

Councilman Thomas M. Johnson Jr. and Ulatowski have been working with state designers on landscaping for the project.

"We want to restore Genesee Street as an attractive east-west access point for the town," Johnson said.

The improvements will take some time. The landscaping will come after the road construction is finished. The project will take about two years to complete, said Jeffrey Zaprowski, the project engineer.

Initial plans to upgrade the nearly three-mile stretch of Genesee Street provoked fierce opposition from residents, until the state changed designs so there will be minimal widening.

As far as landscaping, 15 trees will be planted in "tree wells" within the sidewalk along the Genesee Street business district, from the city line to Pine Ridge Road. Most of the other trees will have to be planted on private property and the state has been asking owners to cooperate.

Besides the Ellwood sitting park, signal improvements and Genesee Street-bus stop enhancements are in store. Benches and landscaping also are planned for a vacant piece of property at the southwest corner of Genesee and Dick Road.

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