Niagara Gazette

May 21, 2013

Greenway panel pans Lewiston projects

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A vote of "not consistent" has little bearing on the future of two Lewiston-based capital projects. Still, those words rang out as the verdict for both the Lewiston Civic Center and the Lewiston-Porter School District's $26 million capital project at the latest Niagara River Greenway Commission meeting Tuesday.

The commission does not control the release of money. Instead, the votes it took were meant to serve as a recommendation to various host community boards, which make the ultimate decision.

Lewiston Supervisor Steve Reiter, presenting his plans for the Lewiston Civic Center, said the vote was actually expected.

"This was like going to the dentist," Reiter said after learning his civic center's decision. "To me, this means nothing. I came here expecting this."

Both agenda items failed to receive consistent declarations by the same 2-7 decision, though two members of the committee weren't present, including Chairman Robert Kresse.

Only Sean Edwards, a Sanborn resident and former Lewiston councilman, and Rob Daly, representing the New York Power Authority, believed the projects fit in with the outlined description of the commission's role.

With Kresse not present, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster served as chairman of the meeting. Though he explained to each of the two chief presenters his support for the projects in his role as mayor, he couldn't provide the same support as chairman of the commission.

"This is a great project," he told Reiter following the town's presentation. "As much as I feel it is a great project, though, I have to vote not consistent."

Edwards, though, refuted the chairman's claim, explaining while the recreation center – and the Lew-Port campus where it would be built – is not along the waterfront, a focal point among decision-makers, it provides recreational opportunities which is another chief measure.

It's also extremely difficult for school districts to successfully receive a consistent rating from the commission based solely on the fact few schools have any location along the waterfront. Districts also don't have the ability to create parks or manage greenspace for the public good.

Daly said the commission knows these project requests from school districts won't ever stick entirely to what has been laid out and that it should matter what districts like Lew-Port intend to do with the money.

"It's never a secret what projects these district's will pursue," he said. "They can only use the money to improve their buildings. I believe it fits the goals of this commission."

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.