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Wheatfield OKs Fairmount Park improvement plans

WHEATFIELD – A $700,000 improvement plan for Fairmount Park was approved unanimously Monday by the Wheatfield Town Board.

The plan, in the works for five years, will include a new restroom at the east end of the park and a network of paved trails to connect the athletic fields and other equipment to the parking lots.

Bernie Rotella, the town’s grant consultant, said $350,000 in grant money from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will pay about half the cost. The town will borrow the rest through a bond issue, Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said. However, the town has to front the money and the grant money will be passed out by the state as the town seeks reimbursement.

The construction probably won’t begin until after Labor Day, after state approval of the plans, Rotella said. However, he said the work should be done before winter.

Cliffe said, “We would prefer not to be digging up and doing the paths in summer while the baseball games are going on.”

Jeffrey Lebsack, senior project manager for Hatch Mott MacDonald, a Buffalo engineering firm that produced the final plan with Town Board input, said the asphalt trails will be 6 feet wide. The paths will create a circuit of the park for walkers, besides connecting the five ball diamonds and the tennis courts, roller hockey courts, playgrounds and exercise stations with the parking lots.

The main point of the grant was to make the park and the restrooms handicapped accessible, Lebsack said. “The end result will be a park everyone can use, from ages 2 to 100,” he said.

Improved benches, playground equipment, landscaping and signs directing people to the various activities are also part of the plan, Lebsack said.

Cliffe said the town’s original grant application asked for funding to replace both of the restroom buildings in the park, but the state approved funding for only one. The restroom near the park’s concession stand will not be part of the improvement plan, he said.

The one at the east end of the park will be converted into a storage shed for the Recreation Department once the new one is erected right next to it.

The town can’t award any construction contracts until the bond issue is authorized sometime this summer.

In another matter, the board held a public hearing on taking land through eminent domain at 6741 Rose Court, the property of Duane and Deborah DiNieri, to clear the way for a drainage improvement in the hamlet of Bergholz.

Residents on nearby Luther Street charged that their properties have been flooded for several years because DiNieri blocked a drainage ditch. Cliffe said the DiNieris bought a neighbor’s property that included the ditch and filled it in.

Town Attorney Robert J. O’Toole said he expects that the town will be able to reach an agreement without eminent domain. “It’ll be resolved by the next meeting (April 6) or we’ll be in court,” he said.

O’Toole said DiNieri will allow the town to connect a drain pipe to carry water through the ditch alongside Oppenheim Park to Sawyer Creek.

Cliffe said, “In this instance, we’ll put pipe in the ground because the gentleman doesn’t want a ditch in his backyard.” He said he didn’t know how much the work will cost.

On another topic, the board authorized Cliffe to sign a contract with Sunnking, the electronics recycling firm, in which the town will pay 10 cents a pound instead of 20 cents per pound to dispose of tube-style TVs and computer monitors. Town residents may drop them off at the water and sewer garage, 3113 Niagara Falls Blvd.