Niagara Gazette

October 23, 2013

Joseph Davis State Park group disbanded in Lewiston

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The public corporation set up to manage proposed improvements at Joseph Davis State Park in Lewiston is no more.

Five of the seven members of the Joseph Davis State Park Local Development Corp. met to dissolve and completely liquidate its assets Wednesday, 14 days after the New York State Authorities Budget Office censured its members for failing to provide adequate financial reports.

"The purpose of the LDC has always been to bond the future development opportunities for the state park," President and Chief Executive Neil Nolf said following the action. "I think the anticipation on the state's part was there would be funding, but the (Lewiston) town board handled all of that. They always held the pursestrings."

The Lewiston Town Board formed the LDC to oversee park operations after budgetary constraints prompted the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to turn oversight of Joseph Davis over to the town.

The seven-member committee, which brought in Louis Giardino, who runs the Rochester-based real estate services firm, Construction Economists of America, or CEA International, as a consultant, oversaw the operation of the corporation. LDC board members had hoped to work with Giardino through the LDC to develop a hotel, conference center and other amenities at the park. The projects never moved beyond the discussion phase.

It wasn't all discussion, though. Some action did result in repaving parking lots, completed this past summer, and the engineering of a new waterfront area along the Niagara River to be used by boaters and fishermen. The construction has yet to be approved, as an environmental review showed negative impacts would occur.

Leading up to the corporation's decision to dissolve was an Oct. 1 letter delivered to the LDC and town officials by authorities budget office Director David Kidera. In it, Kidera said his office asked LDC officials in February to "justify the authority's persistent failure" to meet state reporting requirements, a request he said has never been completed despite discussions about procedure.

With the LDC finished, it'll be up to the town board to decide how to move forward with its plans to update the waterfront. But Nolf said there's a great deal of potential in the land if the town handles it the correct way. Next month's supervisor election could determine the path the town takes concerning its interests in Joseph Davis State Park, he said.

"I think there's a great deal of potential for the utilization of the park, especially along its waterfront," he said. "We'll just have to wait until after the election to see how it's developed by the town."



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