Brainstorming for a land-use vision in Gowanda has already moved beyond the Superfund boundaries of an old tannery dump and the Peter Cooper landfill site on Cattaraugus Creek.
Members of the Cattaraugus Creek Basin Task Force, at work on drawing a reuse plan on the chromium- and arsenic-contaminated site under a $100,000 federal grant, asked the community on Tuesday to identify some preferred future scenarios for the 26 acres of the site.
They learned from some of the 30 people in attendance that many hope development there will extend in both directions along the creek into the Zoar Valley and Seneca Reservation.
Sentiments are running toward recreational use, such as picnic areas, trails or a skate park, to a mixed-use development combining those activities with other small-scale uses. Some of those could include a light industrial or commercial facility, a performance pavilion, a senior center or some single-family residential units.
"The community has a lot of needs right now," said Lou Zicari of the University at Buffalo School of Integrated Waste. He said the Peter Cooper site's size and location on the creek makes it ideal for a tourism use.
Zicari and his students are helping the task force gather ideas from the public, local officials and economic development agencies.
The next stage includes the public opinion survey to be distributed this week in schools and as an insert in a local shoppers' publication. Respondents will be asked to reply in a month.
The UB Law School is also researching possibilities for site ownership by a public benefit corporation and is looking into possibilities for government ownership of a nearby 86-acre site.
The task force will complete a plan next summer, a deadline that would coincide with a proposed remediation plan due at the same from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Gowanda Village Trustee Barbara Nephew said she hopes to see recreational development with creek-side parks and walking trails, in keeping with a recent study that recommended tapping the creek for tourism use that would in turn drive revitalization of the downtown area.