E. Dent Lackey Plaza could be transformed into Lackey Park and walking paths to the waterfront added along Fourth Street over the next year if the state approves a request for $370,000, or half of the project's costs.
The application is one of four on the agenda of Monday's City Council meeting. The others seek $71,000 to help relocate the passenger train station and $30,000 each for a historic trail study and a feasibility study on a gorge discovery center.
The Lackey Plaza-Fourth Street project is estimated to cost $740,000. The plaza and Fourth Street are considered prime points for connecting the downtown to the waterfront, according to the application. Also on the agenda is a proposed $4,000 contract with Olson & Terzian for consulting services in repairing the plaza's fountain.
The city is seeking additional planning and design funds for relocating the train station, now in an industrial area on Lockport Road near Hyde Park. The city wants to put the station next to the Whirlpool Bridge, where it could be connected with the Main Street Business District, public transportation and waterfront hiking and biking trail systems. A previous $200,000 grant for planning, preliminary design and engineering and acquisition was not sufficient, according to Senior City Planner Thomas J. DeSantis. With additional planning money, "we can possibly do the acquisition," he said.
The historic trail project would be undertaken jointly with Niagara University. A study would determine the key heritage destinations throughout the city as well as along the river. The estimated $60,000 cost includes identifying and inventorying the sites; producing a map, brochure and logo; distributing the materials; signs; and an information booth.
The other study would determine the feasibility of developing interpretive centers to highlight the natural history, geology, and industrial and hydroelectric heritage of the Niagara Gorge. Possibilities include such a center at the site of the former Schoellkopf Power Plant or next to the Schoellkopf Geological Museum and similar centers at other locations, DeSantis said.
Each grant requires the city to match the amounts.
Councilman Paul A. Dyster said the applications resulted from a visit here in August by state Secretary of State Alexander Treadwell, a member of the Governor's Quality Community Task Force and chairman of the Subcommittee on Small Cities, on which Mayor Irene J. Elia also serves. According to Dyster, Treadwell encouraged the city to apply for available waterfront funds.
In another matter, the Council will be asked to approve a lawsuit seeking to end claims to downtown lands by lawyer John P. Bartolomei on behalf the Niagara Venture companies. The Urban Renewal Agency approved the lawsuit last week. Because the city is a party to the old development agreements, Council approval also is needed.
Councilman Joseph R. D'Angelo said he would withdraw a resolution asking the state to finance charter schools without taking money from public schools. D'Angelo said he would delay the resolution to give colleagues more time to research the subject.
In other business, the Council will:
Receive a report from City Administrator Albert T. Joseph showing that losses for the Community Faire decreased to $5,149 from $11,588 last year.
Consider transferring $29,114 from firefighting to fire prevention to allow two injured firefighters who haven't been cleared for firefighting to return to light duty.