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Cheektowaga's Rails to Trails program should be completed this fall, Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr. said Monday night.

"We hope to be out to bid the end of April," he said following a Town Board meeting during which the board formally agreed to pay the local matching share of the $2.2 million project.

Johnson said the town will contribute $490,000 toward the improvements for Rails to Trails, which will connect Dingens Park with Stiglmeier Park through trails built along old railroad rights of way and roads in the town.

"We're about $40,000 ahead of the game in terms of local share. No new money need be appropriated to leverage more than $2 million in federal funds," he said.

The council member also pledged that once the trail is constructed, the town would not seek to take more land in Stiglmeier Park for parking. The only new parking to be developed is on Union Road and at Dingens Park, he said.

From Dingens Park, the trail will run along Dingens Street and head north along the abandoned Lehigh Valley railway, crossing William Street to the abandoned rail line. It follows the old Lehigh Valley rail line to Union Road and will cross Union near the Erie County Water Authority over a pedestrian bridge to be built by the state Department of Transportation this year.

The trail continues on an 8-foot-wide sidewalk adjacent to Union Road to Como Park Boulevard, where cyclists will share the road with motorists. The trail links up with Stiglmeier Park.

The comfort station at Dingens Park will be restored, and a new bathroom will be constructed in Stiglmeier Park. The route is to be landscaped, 911 call boxes will be installed, and interpretive signs will be placed at various locations along the route.

Also Monday night, the board hired Buffalo Exterminating Co., Good Riddance and Suburban Pest Control to exterminate rats on private property where owners give permission.

The town has been receiving calls about complaints of rodents for several months.


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