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OFFICIALS MEET ON SHORELINE TRAIL EFFORT

Officials from several Erie County municipalities met Tuesday evening in Tonawanda City Hall to discuss pooling their efforts in creating a uniform 67-mile bike and walking path along the Lake Erie and Niagara River shorelines.

Called the Shoreline Trail, the proposed path would extend from the northern edge of Chautauqua County to Fort Niagara in Youngstown.

Representatives from several municipalities, including the City of Tonawanda, the Town of Evans and Erie County, participated in the meeting along with state officials and representatives of civic organizations.

Members of the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council proposed developing a consistent appearance with uniform signs along the trail.

Elena Modicamore, a transportation planner for the council, said she hopes the trail will increase tourism and travel along the waterfront, produce economic development and bring attention to buildings and areas of historical significance.

The idea "came from looking at the Canadian system in awe," she said. "We really want to do that here."

The transportation council has been recruiting municipalities along the shoreline to join in an informal agreement to work together in developing the trail. The understanding allows each municipality to decide its own level of cooperation in maintaining its segment of the trail.

Only four communities, along with the state and Seneca Nation, have not yet agreed to the understanding.

Initially, the council is merely advocating the purchase of signage along the trail.

It was proposed that the trail be divided into five zones to complement the surrounding area, such as the Riverview in the Tonawandas or the Beaches in the Southtowns.

While there are some areas along the trail that have yet to be paved for a path and still others not even planned at this time, Mark Mistretta of Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers said he was confident that the entire 67-mile trail will be reality within the next decade.

Officials said that they did not want to create a situation where a municipality would be forced to constantly pay for the trail's upkeep.

Tonawanda Mayor Jack Gallagher said he, too, is looking forward to the cooperative effort, since his office window overlooks the trail itself.

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