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Grand Island supervisor uses video to persuade on proposed bike path

Grand Island Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray wants to close West River Parkway in order to build a bike path along the Niagara River, and he’s turning to internet video to win residents over to the idea.

In a video posted to his personal YouTube page, McMurray recorded video of the parkway from a friend’s helicopter, pointing out that West River Parkway and West River Road run parallel.

The video, titled “West River: U See Any Cars?” has been viewed nearly 500 times since it was uploaded last week.

“Two roads,” he writes in the video. “If we close one, we get a path worth millions.”

McMurray said he and his friend, the helicopter pilot, traveled back and forth along the parkway from the air four times last Saturday, looking for vehicle traffic.

“We saw one car,” he said.

The video points out that some residents would like to keep the parkway for cars.

“Problem is,” the caption reads, “u see any cars?”

In an interview, McMurray called West River Parkway a “dead road,” noting that it’s not maintained during the winter.

Drivers also have a tendency to speed on the road, he said, which is listed at 55 mph.

“I call it the Autobahn of Western New York,” he said, referring to the German highway system notorious for not having speed limits.

As the one-minute video ends, McMurray implores residents to support the plan for the bike path.

“I’m trying to persuade people,” he said. “The only way to get it done is to think creatively.”

Using video isn’t new to McMurray, who used videos to get his message across while campaigning for town supervisor last year. He also posted a video on a kayaking trip he and his son took recently, to bring attention to the Island, and a video on the Grand Island tolls, which has since been taken down.

McMurray said he’s trying to get residents to think outside of the box when it comes to ideas for Grand Island.

“I want to get people excited about things,” he said. “If you want different results, you have to try something different.”

A public information meeting will be held by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on the proposed bike trail at 6 p.m. July 20 at Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road. Drawings of the plan will be available for review, and staff will be on hand to discuss the project. A formal presentation will be given at 7 p.m. Verbal and written comments on the plan will be accepted.

Money from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will fund the proposed 8-mile project if it moves forward, McMurray said.

Under the proposed plan, the parkway would be resurfaced, no lighting or guardrails would be added, and there would not be an impact on the waterfront. The town worked with the state on the design of the path.

“It’ll be a world-class bike path because of its location on the water,” he said.

The proposed path will connect Beaver Island and Buckhorn state parks, as well as Buffalo and Niagara Falls, McMurray said.

“It’s an extension of Buffalo’s waterfront,” he said. “The good things happening in Buffalo are leaking into the suburbs.”