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Cambria's only town park getting new restrooms

CAMBRIA -- Residents may find relief in the news that the town will open its first permanent comfort station in Cambria Town Park in the spring, completing another piece in the multi-phase project.

Towns officials expect workers to complete construction of the $421,000 bathroom facility in the town’s only park next week. But it will not open until April 1, when the park reopens for spring, according to Cambria Town Supervisor Wright Ellis.

The comfort station includes men’s and women’s bathrooms, plus empty space for a potential snack bar in the future, he noted.

Opening of the permanent bathrooms will negate the need for the town to continue to rent portable bathrooms for the park, a savings to the town.

Ellis said the comfort station project will be paid for through grant monies, town reserves, and, potentially, a bond anticipation note, stressing that “it will not impact town taxes.”

Ellis said the town had received an $80,000 grant for the project from the New York Power Authority, through the Niagara River Greenway Commission, and recently received news of another Greenway grant, of $90,000. The town also received a $50,000 grant from the state’s Municipality Facilities Program, through Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda.

Ellis said the town has reserves in its town park capital fund, which is supplemented by a new recreation fee charged to developers for new construction. Developers pay the town $350 per lot they develop.

If needed, the town will also consider borrowing roughly $200,000 in a bond anticipation note, to be paid back over five years, to pay off the comfort station project, Ellis said.

He said the town saved considerable money on the project by using town workers and equipment when it could, trenching and laying water pipes, as well as conduit pipes for electricity, for example.

“We also still have 35 acres for eventual development on the eastern side of the park,” Ellis noted. “But, we want to pay off the comfort station first, so we don’t envision the expansion for quite some time. We are sensitive to the maintenance of these items, in order to keep things running properly.”

For many years, the town has leased out that undeveloped 35 acres to a local farmer to plant, so that it didn’t become overgrown with weeds and brush, a practice it continues.

The seeds for Cambria’s first town park were planted in 1997 when the town was updating its master plan and residents showed interest in establishing a park. The town bought 108 acres of farmland from the Boldt family in 1999  and procured an early $150,000 matching grant through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Environmental Protection Fund, which was used primarily to establish nature trails in the parks’ wetlands area, considered Phase I of the plan.

In ensuing years, the town has also completed two baseball diamonds, two soccer fields, a playground, basketball court and horseshoe pits. A large picnic pavilion was built in addition to the four smaller ones, as well. About a mile of paved walkway was installed, running the circumference of the park, while roughly another mile of dedicated, woodchip-covered nature trails leading to wooden footbridges was created through the protected wetlands on the rear 28 acres.

The park also includes a memorial tree grove in the north end, whereby people may purchase a tree and have a plaque dedicated to an individual. Nearly two dozen have been sold since this project began. And, the park also includes a veterans memorial garden with flagpole.

Ideas for the future expansion may include a softball diamond, as Ellis said local players currently use Pekin Fire Hall’s diamond. The installation of lighting for night baseball games is also on the wish list.

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