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LaSalle, Front, Riverside parks get greenway panel's OK for upgrades

Proposed improvements to three waterfront parks in the City of Buffalo on Tuesday received the endorsement of the Niagara River Greenway Commission.

However, the commission did not make a determination regarding a proposal by the City of Lockport for a retail store that would sell Niagara County-produced goods, reaching a tie vote during a meeting in Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island.

In March 2008, the Greenway Commission produced a master plan calling for a series of interconnected parks, trails and green spaces along the Niagara River from Buffalo to Youngstown.

The commission's endorsement gives sponsors access to a $9 million pool of annual funding for greenway projects. The commission itself is not authorized to fund projects. Several entities, known as standing committees, control the annual funding.

The City of Buffalo's LaSalle Park First Impression Plan proposes various improvements to the park, including a new entryway with lighting and granite curbing. The project would also include a new playground, shelter, grills, benches and landscaping. It was approved in a 10-0 vote by the commission.

Two proposals from the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy were endorsed, including the restoration of a stone shelter built in 1904 in Front Park. The project includes the creation of an international peace garden, as well as some improvements to the foot of Porter Avenue at the waterfront.

The second conservancy project calls for the creation of a concourse area in Riverside Park, which would have a river overlook and picnic areas.

Each of the conservancy's proposals was endorsed in a 9-0 vote, with Chairman Robert J. Kresse abstaining because he is a member of the Olmsted Parks board.

The Lockport proposal can move forward with a funding request to the Host Community Standing Committee, an eight-member panel that includes representatives of governments and school districts in Niagara County, along with the New York Power Authority. The committee controls $3 million in funding per year.

The Lockport proposal, called the Canalside Wine Emporium, had its endorsement request rejected in May. At the time, the project was sponsored by a private company, but is now sponsored by the city.

Also Tuesday, commissioners, in a 9-1 vote, rejected an endorsement request from Green Trade Marketing in West Seneca. The company had proposed developing a Web site with "green" information from businesses and other organizations from the municipalities that are part of the greenway.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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