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LEWISTON — A local engineering firm has responded to questions submitted by a Lewiston resident concerned with the town's plan to construct a park along the Niagara River. 

Amy Witryol submitted a list of 14 questions regarding the soil sampling process that was undertaken at the proposed park property, located at 4358 Lower River Road, just south of Joseph Davis State Park at the west end of Pletcher Road. The questions and their answers were the subject of discussion at the town's Environmental Commission meeting this past week. 

The questions pertained to the locations where samples were taken, the criteria by which the results were judged, record keeping and other issues. 

Witryol referenced a 1978 study by former infrastructure firm Krehbiel Assocates which indicated that there could be some possible contamination at the site, which was used to bury waste in the past. She asked why the 1978 report was not included in more recent reports about the site as submitted by GHD. 

"The 1978 Krehbiel report makes an assumption about the source of the pipe material that conflicts with the observations of the divers as well as the summary provided by Allen Marine Salvage Service," GHD replied. "Based on GHD’s review of the ... report in its entirety, as well as the knowledge from 40-plus years of study of Niagara River sediments, GHD disagrees with Krehbiel’s assumption."

Witryol also expressed concerns about contaminants leaching from the original burial site. She said while the highest levels of detected contaminants were found within the burial footprint, "the next highest detections of mercury, arsenic and manganese and PCBs are located outside the burial footprint."

GHD explained that the chemicals are commonly found in soils due to the use of fossil fuels, and arsenic is especially common in former farm land, as it was a common component of pesticides. 

Also questioned was the use of "restricted residential" criteria to determine whether the site was acceptable for use as a park. There was some discussion about whether the standard was proper for determining whether the area would be a safe park. 

"Our concern here is for protection of public health," GHD wrote in their response to Witryol. "Commercial criteria are applicable to passive recreational uses, however, as a conservative measure, GHD applied the restricted residential criteria for active recreational uses. This is the only relevant criteria."

The Lewiston Town Board recently tabled a pair of motions that would allow them to move forward with the process of applying for grant funding in order to complete the planned park.

Described as a "soft" park, the facility is expected to involve little to no construction, according to town officials who say current plans envision a picnic pavilion and a road being built on-site. There is also talk of constructing a kayak launch, though final plans for the park have not yet been submitted. 

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