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Town of Niagara approves splash park

TOWN OF NIAGARA – A splash park for children will be installed at Veterans Memorial Park next year.

The Town Board Tuesday approved using $350,000 in Niagara River Greenway Commission funding to purchase and install the water recreation facility.

Supervisor Lee Wallace, who said work on the splash park would begin next year, said it is similar to facilities at Oppenheim Park in Wheatfield and Hyde Park in Niagara Falls – with concrete wading pools equipped with sprinklers.

“We’re trying to diversify the uses – not just baseball and soccer,” Wallace said.

Although the board gave the plan unanimous approval, the project was met with some criticism from Tom Tierney of Rhode Island Avenue during the public comment section of the meeting.

Tierney noted this was the second time the board approved $350,000 in work at Veterans Memorial Park and as of yet the council has earmarked no Greenway funding for any of the four pocket parks in the town.

During its meeting in June, the board agreed to spend as much as $350,000 of its community center project money to install external electric power at the park. Deputy Supervisor Charles Teixeira said the work would extend power to the other end of the park and would allow for more restroom facilities in the future. In addition, the board Tuesday approved another $24,000 of grant money to Clark Patterson Lee for engineering work on the electrical transmission project.

“Why not use some of the money for the pocket parks?” asked Tierney, who said it wouldn’t take much, perhaps “$100,000 for the four parks” located in neighborhoods throughout the town. The New York State Power Authority, which provides much of the funding, “would agree,” he said.

He added that “a plastic jungle gym would make the kids happy” at the neighborhood park in Belden Center, near his home.

“We are (looking at the pocket parks). I give you my word,” said Wallace, who added that the board would look at using the remaining $130,000 of grant money for the smaller parks. He said the board agreed that the parks were not in good condition and that many children cannot get to Veterans Memorial Park on Lockport Road.

Town Clerk Sylvia Virtuoso noted that in some cases, the board is limited in the use of the funding. She said the Greenway money needs to be used for new projects such as the splash park – not rehabilitation of existing facilities. Wallace said the board would be able to determine how to apply the money.

Councilman Marc Carpenter said Tierney’s comments were appreciated by the board, which understands the value of the neighborhood parks, which need to be upgraded and made accessible.

“The community should not neglect the pocket parks. The neighborhoods depend on them,” said Carpenter, who added that the parks “make the neighborhoods strong and increase the value of the homes in the area.”

Highway Superintendent Robert Herman suggested that the neighborhood block clubs come up with suggestions for the board on how to use the money in their parks.

Following the meeting, Wallace discussed the Belden Center park with Tierney and another resident who told him playground equipment and not a basketball court would be appropriate for the site.

The board also approved a local law that prohibits tobacco use near all town playgrounds, playing fields and recreational areas. The law complies with the state statute.