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Plan unveiled for lodge, conference center at state park

A proposal to build a multimillion-dollar lodge and conference center at Joseph Davis State Park was unveiled Monday at the Town Board meeting, but the project would need a number of approvals before it could move forward.

"This is just to give the public an idea of what could be developed," Supervisor Steven Reiter said.

Reiter told the public that town officials are in the process of putting together a development corporation to update the long-neglected park, which was recently put into town hands through a long-term lease agreement.

The park remains state land, however, and Reiter said any proposal will need state approval.

Town officials are listening to ideas about park improvements and would need to give others a chance to make pitches as part of a request-for-proposals, or RFP, process, the supervisor said.

Plans for the three-floor, 48-room lodge and conference center were presented by the DiMarco Group of Rochester and Stieglitz Snyder Architecture of Buffalo.

They two companies propose an energy efficient building with decks and terraces looking out to the Niagara River, as well as paths that lead to the water. The plan also features a small man-made stream that would run to the river between the conference center and the lodge. The buildings would be connected with a glass atrium bridge. The conference center would have a capacity of 250.

"It's still very conceptual right now," said Paul M. Colucci, vice president of the DiMarco Group. "We wanted to show you what our vision would be."

Architect Robert A. Shepard of Stieglitz Snyder said the lodge is designed around a conservation theme and features colors and designs that would be appropriate for a parklike setting. Guest suites would be slightly larger than traditional hotel rooms, with room for gear, and a connector between suites would open up two rooms so they could be offered as a 600-square-foot combined suite.

Shepard said the current design includes an outdoor fireplace on the lower terrace. Rooms would feature large windows that also look out onto the river and offer adequate natural light.

John DiMarco told The Buffalo News after the meeting that the two companies recently heard about new plans for park development, which is why they came to the town.

"We do this all the time. You start out with a concept," DiMarco said. "It boils down to the user and what do they need a facility to do. A successful facility is one that doesn't lose sight of that."

The lodge and conference center proposal is the third project the town has discussed to update Joseph Davis State Park. Others include a $5 million Audubon Nature Center and a $10 million fish hatchery and "eco park" to promote Niagara County sport fishing.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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