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Dog park to receive Greenway funding<br> Supervisor wants site done in 2010

WHEATFIELD — A proposal to create a dog park at the Lewiston Plateau will receive Niagara River Greenway money despite not yet having been endorsed by a commission that determines whether projects meet criteria for the Greenway.

An eight-member committee that controls Greenway funds set aside for parks and recreation in Niagara County voted Friday to disburse $51,000 to the Town of Lewiston to create a 1.3-acre, off-leash dog park on land near Artpark known as the Lewiston Plateau.

Lewiston Supervisor Steven L. Reiter said Friday he was concerned that if the town waited for the approval of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, it would miss the opportunity to install the dog park fence this summer.

"Contractors have schedules, and we're trying to get in their schedule so it gets done this year," Reiter said. "This was one of my election promises."

The Greenway Commission last month chose to delay a decision on whether Lewiston's dog park proposal was consistent with the guiding principles of the Niagara River Greenway. Commissioners questioned whether the dog park would conflict with another Greenwayfunded project to study wildlife and plants in the Niagara Gorge rim.

While the commission determines whether projects meet the vision of the Greenway plan, another group, known as the Host Community Standing Committee, controls how funds are distributed in Niagara County.

Reiter said Friday he believes he had addressed concerns of Greenway commissioners after showing that the dog park would be located on land owned by the Village of Lewiston, which has expressed support for the project.

The Host Communities Standing Committee voted Friday to spend $51,000 on the dog park despite a request from an environmental group to wait.

Michelle Vanstrom, president of Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter, asked the committee to wait to give money to the dog park proposal until after its consultant, Environmental Design & Research, completes its study of the gorge rim. The study, which is also funded with Greenway money, will inventory plants and wildlife within a 6.5-mile area along the gorge.

"I think leaders need to be fully informed about all possibilities before they make a decision," Vanstrom said. "The only thing I was asking was to give us a chance to show you this information."

Vanstrom said the study is expected to be completed within a year.

The Lewiston Plateau — a 43-acre area created by spoils from the construction of the Niagara Power Project — includes a grasslands wildlife refuge area adjacent to the space where the dog park is planned.

The Niagara River Greenway funds are part of a 2007 settlement between local communities and the New York Power Authority over the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.

One other proposal, an athletic field project submitted by the Lewiston-Porter Central School District, was turned down by the Niagara River Greenway Commission but received Greenway funding from the Host Community Standing Committee.

The Host Community committee on Friday also approved giving the Village of Lewiston $54,000 for the restoration of the historic Piper Law Office, to turn it into a village welcome center. A Town of Porter proposal to create a master plan for its Porter-on-the-Lake park will receive $20,000.

e-mail: djgee@buffnews.com

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