Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 17, 2007

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Catherine Jimenez

Ash Approves Plan For Niagara River Greenway

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today announced approval of the Niagara River Greenway Plan linking parks, recreation areas and trails in communities located along the Niagara River in Erie and Niagara Counties. As part of the announced approval, Ash took part in a tour of the Greenway zone and potential project locations.

"The Niagara River Greenway is a significant ecological and cultural resource and is vital to the revitalization and development of Western New York," said Ash. "The Niagara River Greenway Plan will ensure the protection of wetlands and other natural resources along the waterfront and provides guidance to local communities seeking to promote economic development initiatives and enhance recreational, educational and cultural opportunities. I want to thank the members of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, local elected officials and the residents of Niagara and Erie Counties for their valuable input and support during the process of developing the plan."

The Niagara River Greenway Commission was established by legislation in 2004 to aid in the planning and development of the Niagara River Greenway. The 14 member Commission was appointed to begin planning for the creation of a new Niagara River Greenway stretching from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

"This is a great day for the citizens of Western New York," said Robert J. Kresse, Chairman, Niagara River Greenway Commission. "What has been accomplished over the last eighteen months is truly a testament to the character and foresight of our great region. The cooperation and acceptance of the Niagara River Greenway Plan will benefit the many generations to come."

The purpose of the Niagara River Greenway is to develop a trail system with connections to land access points, balance economic growth that compliments the natural and scenic environment, preservation and enhancement of environmental resources, and the celebration of the region's cultural and industrial heritage.

The Niagara River Greenway Plan identifies criteria for evaluating and forming projects and activities within the Greenway in an effort to guide project development and design. The criteria will help sponsors determine if a project submitted to the Commission contributes to the Greenway and is consistent with the principles, priorities, focus area and economic vitality as set forth in the Plan. Projects may be eligible for funding through various State and Federal programs, as well as private foundations.

In developing the Plan, a complete environmental review was undertaken to consider possible impacts in an effort to avoid or minimize adverse environmental effects, and more than 50 public meetings were held in Niagara and Erie Counties. In addition, a Local Government Advisory Committee, consisting of the chief elected official of each municipality adjacent to the river, and a Citizens' Advisory Committee, consisting of various stakeholder groups and individuals, have been established.

The Plan establishes a set of principles for the Niagara River Greenway that identifies resources, sets priorities, and outlines system-wide strategies for development within the Greenway. The Plan includes an inventory and summary of the many resources located along the Niagara River Greenway including parks and public lands, ecological resources, priority conservation lands and heritage sites.

The guiding principles of the Plan will enhance, maintain and preserve open space, develop areas for active recreational opportunities, encourage redevelopment of vacant or underutilized brownfield sites and improve water access where access is currently limited or obstructed.

The Plan takes into consideration the sensitive ecological areas along the Niagara River and provides for the protection and preservation of wetlands and improves habitat for resident and migratory birds, fish and other species.

In addition, high priority concepts have been identified to help promote implementation of the Niagara River Greenway such as accessing and connecting communities to the river; preserving and restoring important ecological resources; linking special places and destinations; and heritage tourism and economic revitalization.

Implementation of the Plan will result in significant beneficial impact on wetlands, natural habitats and sensitive ecological areas along the Niagara River, preserve areas of open space and provide recreational and educational opportunities in local communities. The region will also benefit from enhanced recreational, cultural and ecotourism opportunities and increased use of the river ecosystem for tourism.

The Niagara River Greenway Commission was established to aid in the planning and development of the Plan. The commission is comprised of the following members: Robert Kresse, Chairman; Richard M. Soluri; John Giardino; Paul Leuchner; Ronald Moline; Paul Dyster; Louis Ciminelli; and Brett Sommer. Each of the commission members must reside within a municipality adjacent to the Niagara River.

The Commission also consists of representatives from the following state agencies: Secretary of State; the Commissioners of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the Department of Transportation; the Department of Environmental Conservation; and Empire State Development; as well as the Chairperson of the New York Power Authority, or their designees.

The boundary of the Niagara River Greenway follows municipal lines and encompasses 13 municipalities, including Porter, Youngstown, Lewiston (Town and Village), Niagara, Niagara Falls, Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, Grand Island, Tonawanda (City and Town), Kenmore and Buffalo. In addition, the Plan acknowledges connections to other systems including the Seaway Trail, the Niagara Wine Trail and the Erie Canalway.