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Two want trail plan to take a hike

Two Town Board members said Wednesday that the town should stop spending money on the development of a new nature park, but they were outvoted, 3-2, on a plan to begin laying out hiking trails there.

Councilmen Paul H. Pettit and Paul W. Siejak opposed Supervisor Marc R. Smith's proposal for the work in Lytle Park, which is not yet open. Council members Mark C. Crocker and Cheryl A. Antkowiak voted with Smith.

Smith said he wasn't sure how much the work would cost, but he didn't think it would be much.

His resolution called for painting a pedestrian crosswalk on North Canal Road between a parking lot and the park entrance; posting signs at the entrance; and mowing paths through the grass and laying down wood chips to make the trails.

Smith said the town has lots of wood chips from its brush collections and has the equipment to mow the grass.

Pettit and Siejak said the town ought to hunker down financially rather than begin to commit funds to the new park, which is to be developed on 75 acres of land donated to the town by the late William Lytle.

Most of it is covered by a conservation easement posted by the Western New York Land Conservancy, permanently limiting the types of amenities that can be installed.

"My personal opinion is, we ought to stop everything, not spend another dime and let Lytle Park sit for two or three years," Pettit said. "If we keep spending money, it's like falling off the Empire State Building and saying as we pass the 52nd floor, everything is fine. But it's going to hurt when we hit the sidewalk."

"It could be a black hole," Siejak said. "We have other pressing needs in this town that should be dealt with first."

"If we stifle this project, we're kicking a gift horse in the face," Antkowiak said. "Communities would kill for this opportunity."

Siejak said the town has two other parks. "Those facilities are enough to fill the need," he said.

"You guys have voiced from the get-go, you don't like parks, you don't think we should have parks," Antkowiak charged.

Pettit and Siejak denied that, but Pettit added, "The more parks we have, the more facilities we have, the more work we've got to do."

"I know New York State is in a dire situation, but what has been proposed is basic maintenance," Crocker said. "Mowing the trail, a loop 1 1/2 or two miles, I don't think that's a big deal."

But he insisted on the posting of signs making it clear the park is not yet open.

On another matter, a flood-damage prevention law was introduced, which in effect would ratify the new floodplain maps published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and revised after objections from the town. A public hearing is expected at the Aug. 4 board meeting.

"These are not laws we're going to have the opportunity to change. It's mandated by FEMA," Town Attorney Daniel E. Seaman said. "If you don't adopt the law, nobody in the Town of Lockport who lives in a flood plain will be eligible for flood insurance and they won't be able to get a mortgage."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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