by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF LEWISTON - Plans for a proposed recreation and senior center are moving forward.
Town officials presented their plan for the 140,000 square-foot, multi-use facility on Monday and declared an intention to have it located on 10 acres of land in front of Lewiston-Porter High School.
"The way we envision this is the school sells the property to the town, the town builds the facility and the town then controls its use," Supervisor Steve Reiter said Monday. "Another benefit is the police station is right there. And it's really a community center. I think we probably should be calling it that."
To provide information about the project, a website has been established detailing the building specifications, along with frequently asked questions and official contacts. It's available at www.lewistonrsc.org.
Reiter and a committee formed to oversee the planning of the recreation and senior center previously presented plans for the building to the School Board in October.
Since then, the school board officially set a price of $5,000 per acre for land in front of the high school, at the corner of Creek Road and Daryl Johnston Way. The board also agreed to create a letter of intent to negotiate with the town in order to ensure the land purchase leads to the construction of the planned recreation center.
The school board also would like to ensure, as part of the deal to buy the land, the district's students receive preferential use.
According to district Superintendent Christopher Roser, the board's executive committee successfully crafted the letter of intent, which it will present to the entire board at its next meeting on Dec. 18.
"We want to work with the town," Roser said. "Our subcommittee has drawn up a list of what we want to see, which we will present to the town as part of our negotiations.
"We've also developed a timetable for the sale," Roser said.
One of the benefits the five town board members feel could come out of the creation of the new center would be the upgrade from the existing area for senior citizens.
Housed independently, with its own entrance and exit from the building, the senior center would expand the town's offering to its oldest citizens with more room and the ability to overlook the recreation areas, town officials said. Reiter said many seniors he's talked to expressed interest in an indoor walking track, as well as the ability to look in on the happenings inside the building.
"I don't think the project would float if the senior center is not included," Reiter said.
If there was one complaint the council lodged, it's the location. Many members said the school district isn't centrally located enough to be the best place for a massive facility like the one being proposed.
But they appeared to warm up to the location after Reiter explained he's approached some of the neighboring municipalities, including Porter, Youngstown and the Village of Lewiston for financial backing.
"We want all of the town to be able to enjoy (the center)," Councilman Alphonso Bax said. "Regardless of where they live. As well as the town of Porter, village of Youngstown, village of Lewiston. This is about sharing an asset with those around the area."