GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — State proposals, which have been in the works for years to turn West River Parkway into a multi-use path came to a head here last week, when a surprise vote nixed one of three plans. But that didn’t put the brakes on the entire project.
“We need proper commitments, we need to make sure that we don’t fix one error with another major error,” said Town Councilman Mike Madigan.
Madigan, who led last week’s vote, isn’t opposed to the multi-use path along the river’s edge. But he hopes whatever comes of the area, is done well.
“It was supposed to be a gem,” Madigan said. “The original plan for this parkway decades ago was that it would be a gem, that there wouldn’t be falling down signs and weeds and blocked river views. All the promises that were made in the original plan through eminent domain … have been broken.”
Residents living along this stretch are used to seeing and experiencing sparse traffic or the occasional bicyclist out for an afternoon ride.
But that’s likely to change in the coming years, as the state is planning to close West River Parkway to vehicular traffic, thus pushing more cars onto the adjacent West River Road.
Mark Merletti has owned property there for 35 years. He’s not thrilled with the idea of the state taking more control.
“The state is the custodian of the parkway and the park, and it’s been very well documented over the years that the state has not done their fair share,” Merletti said. “I feel that the way things are it works well. And we feel that if the state got involved and had to hold up their end of the bargain, did the maintenance, did the grooming, it would help the area without disturbing the area.”
“I feel that the best solution and most immediate solution to this problem is less is more,” he added.
Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray said he was taken off guard by the backlash.
“It’s a big surprise,” he said. “I presented this idea or this concept to them months ago. We talked about it, I drew it on the whiteboard, and no one said a word, no one said a peep. The process of developing this path has been going on for years, so I think this is just another piece of that process, It’s another bit of feedback that the state parks will have to look at.”
McMurray also said he’s not giving up.
“I’m going to keep fighting for this,” he said. “I want this done. I want construction to start next year. We’re talking about a change. When there’s a change there’s always a little bit of reluctance. But I think this is a no-brainer.”
McMurray, known for writing lengthy blog posts to residents on a weekly basis, also penned a letter to New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, saying there was overwhelming support in the town for a multi-use path, and to move forward with one of the three plans.
The future of the path Grand Island is still several months in the making. But exactly how it will turn out is anyone’s guess at this point. Final approval isn’t expected until next fall.