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Greenway funds to cover cost of path between memorial, harbor

Plans are under way to complete a walkway/bicycle trail connecting Wilson Harbor and the Greenwood Veterans Memorial Park, thanks to $90,000 in funds recently announced by the Niagara River Greenway Commission.

"We are extremely excited about this," said Wilson Town Supervisor Joseph A. Jastrzemski. "This will really enhance the beauty of the harbor and create better access from our business district to the harbor and back."

Jastrzemski said the town is finalizing its surveys of the site -- about 2,300 feet of paved pathway for walkers and bicyclists -- and will soon bid out some of the concrete work. Town employees will do some of the work, as well, he said.

The town is contributing $15,000 to the project. Work is expected to be finished this spring.

"This path will go from Route 18, which is part of the Seaway Trail, down Park Avenue to where it splits on Shore Drive, and then goes down toward to the Tuscarora Yacht Club and Tuscarora Island or over to Sunset Bay Marina and Sunset Grille," he said. "It will also create better access to the Wilson Yacht Club."

Jastrzemski added, "Private money has gone into the yacht clubs, marina and restaurant, and there is now an influx of transient boaters there -- sometimes over 300 people will come in for a weekend, and they have had to walk or bike in the street down there, so this will also help alleviate a very dangerous situation."

Jastrzemski said the idea for the designated path was planted when a teacher approached him about taking young students to the area for field trips.

The late Floyd D. "Red" Clark donated the land and organized most of the installation work to create Veterans Park, which was dedicated on Memorial Day in 2007. Plaques bearing the names of Wilson residents who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces dating back to the 1770s were installed in the park when it opened.

"This Veterans Park was Red's dream, and he used private money to erect it," Jastrzemski said.

The adjoining Greenwood Cemetery includes many familiar names, including Reuben Wilson, founder of the town, Jastrzemski said.

"Using the Greenway money for this path connecting the Veterans Park and the harbor is utilizing the money according to the Greenway vision," Jastrzemski said. "We had been looking for funding for this project for the past two years when our Niagara County Legislator, David Godfrey, pointed us in the direction of Greenway funds. We're thankful to the Niagara County Legislature and the Greenway Commission for this money."

"Our second phase of this project, if we're able to get more funding, would be to someday connect Wilson-Tuscarora State Park with this new trail," Jastrzemski said. He added that the town might seek help from the Greenway Commission for that as well.

The New York Power Authority supplies the Greenway money -- $3 million per year in Niagara County -- as part of its relicensing agreement, settled in 2007, to run the Niagara Power Project. As compensation for diverting the area's natural resource, the authority agreed to pay $450 million over 50 years to fund local community improvement projects.