Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Niagara River Greenway

My understanding of the Niagara River Greenway project submission process is it is limited to municipalities and not-for-profits. Before anyone can receive any greenway dollars, the project must go before the Greenway Commission, be presented to the public, and be the recipient of public comments made through the greenway website.

After that, the Commissioners make the determination of "consistent with" or "not consisitent with" the Niagara River Greenway plan. Majority wins the consistency vote. Assuming one has the consistency determination, then the project must be submitted to a Standing Committee where it's decided whether or not to fund the project. Each individual standing committee decides how it will fund. Some have agreed to split the money evenly (Niagara Co. Host Committee). Some have mandated 100% agreement between members of the committee Niagara Relicenicng Environmental Coalition (NREC). Some agreed to a majority vote.

In Niagara Co. the Host Community Standing Committee is made up of 3 school districts, 3 municipalities and the county. (The New York Power Authority (NYPA) sits on all four Standing Committees). The school districts are: Lewiston-Porter, Niagara Falls, and Wheatfield. The municipalities are Town of Lewiston, Town of Niagara, and City of Niagara Falls. (They receive $3 million/year for 50 years) The 7 members have only funded their own projects todate. That dictate appears to be how their funding process will work for the next 50 years.

The only other greenway funding sources available to Niagara Co. are the two Ecological Standing Committees. The big one (seems like there are over 20 groups involved, including the three nations), is overseen by NYPA. NREC has a seat on it, and is represented by Riverkeeper. Wooster attends those. Every Member of NREC can all attend, but only Margaret has the floor to speak.

The smaller Ecological Committee, NREC, will receive 1 million/per year for 50 years.). It's chaired by Margaret Wooster. It's the one I have a voice on via The Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council (NFWHC). Every organization in NREC has one vote and we must all agree for a project to be funded. NFWHC is the only Niagara Co. organization on this committee.

Wild Ones Niagara, has a project into the Niagara River Greenway Commission. They have hired an outstanding, award-winning, ecological/environmental firm, that has designed scenic trails. Their project is running head-on in direct opposition to the Robert Moses Parkway road removal debate, and other major issues going on here. To make their project meet mutual goals, they have to prove an economical benefit. They anticipate asking NREC to fund this study. If they are granted "consistency."

They intend to develop the study with or without support, advisory capacity, or friendship. If the Wild Ones project is successful or not in the Greenway process they gave it everything. They donated time and money (literally thousands) and all available resources. The chapter isn't making any money on the project. They do expect that to change, after they have finished this current study and moved on to actual reclamation. And, that requires they start the process all over again...

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