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Wheatfield borrows money for Greenway trail

WHEATFIELD – The Town Board voted Monday to borrow $350,000 in a five-year bond issue to pay for the design of a Niagara River Greenway trail through the town.

The board also agreed to pay $346,635 to Wendel, the town’s engineering firm, to design the trail that is to run from North Tonawanda’s Gratwick-Riverside Park to the Niagara Falls city line.

The town has a $1,136,000 federal Scenic Byways grant to pay for the first phase, which is estimated to cost $1.8 million, Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said.

He said the Wendel payment “is taking us from the finished design up until letting out bids.” The route is to run behind homes on the north side of River Road, Cliffe said. Timothy G. Walck, chief operating officer of Wendel, said the route would run on the south side of the CSX Transportation railroad right of way, part of which contains an active track, while part is former track now owned by the town. He said if CSX cooperates on use of its right of way, construction on the first phase could begin next summer.

“The whole thing is $3 million,” Walck said, but a firmer cost estimate will result from the design work the board authorized Monday. Walck said the trail is to be a 12-foot-wide strip of pavement intended for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Last week the Greenway Commission endorsed the town’s request for $600,000, to be paid over the next four years to help fund the second phase. That money would come from Niagara County’s share of the New York Power Authority’s annual payments to the Greenway. The final say on allocation lies with the Host Communities Standing Committee, which next meets Sept. 22.

Also Monday, Cliffe said the board will post a revised version of the electronic sign law on the town website shortly, with the intention of voting on it at the Aug. 10 meeting. The law limits the use of electronic signs, but some provisions, such as the requirement that the signs be shut off at 9 p.m., were deleted after a public hearing last month.

On another topic, Highway Superintendent Paul A. Siegmann said town crews have completed paving work on Klemer, Demler, Schultz and Homeyer roads and Deidre and Samantha courts.

“We’re behind on chipping,” Siegmann told the board. “When we’re paving, it takes every man we have.” He urged residents to be patient when it comes to brush chipping.

Town Engineer Timothy Zuber said a request is in for a 23-home subdivision at 3400 Niagara Falls Blvd., with access to the homes from Nash Road on a new road, to be called Aubrey Way. The 17-acre site, owned by motorcycle dealer Bob Weaver would include one commercial lot for his dealership.

Cliffe announced that a company is asking the town for permission to erect four cellphone towers on town property. Cliffe said the town likely will reject one of the sites, and the developer is offering to pay the town a flat $20,000 for each of the other three sites. Details on the sites or the developer have not been disclosed, but Cliffe said there may be action Aug. 10.

Zuber also told the Town Board that the Planning Board is considering a 195-foot Verizon Wireless cell tower at 6571 Shawnee Road. The tower would be topped by a 4-foot lightning rod.