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October 2013 Column - Improvements at county parks must remain constant


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

Erie County Legislator John J. Mills, joined by his colleagues in the Legislature and Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, honored Orchard Park resident Joe DeMarco, founder of Wings Flights of Hope, at the July 24, 2014 session.

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oneilj - Posted on 04 October 2013

Last week I joined the county executive and parks commissioner at Chestnut Ridge Park on a sunny morning to discuss improvements made to Erie County parks. From where we stood addressing the media, I could see a steady stream of cars entering the parks to enjoy a beautiful fall day.

Residents expect and deserve to have quality facilities when they go to the parks, and I am pleased to say major improvements have been made to ensure they are in good condition. However, park maintenance is a constant task that we must stay on top of at all times.

In my district alone there are several beautiful nature spaces, including Chestnut Ridge in Orchard Park, Sprague Brook in Glenwood/Concord, and Wendt and Bennett beaches in Evans. Since I was elected to the Legislature, I have supported many capital improvement projects at the parks, some of the largest being renovations to the iconic casino and restoration of the toboggan chutes, both located in Chestnut Ridge Park.

The county executive reported that in the past two years the county has invested $4.5 million in its parks and beaches resulting in a variety of work.

Currently under way at Chestnut Ridge is a redesign of the entrance to better direct traffic and improve safety for pedestrians walking from the parking lot to the casino. Also, tennis courts are being resurfaced with new nets installed, and several shelters’ roofs were replaced. The improvements to the shelters are especially critical considering the county charges a fee to rent them. When someone pays for a service, they expect to receive a quality product. The county’s park system is more extensive than most people realize. There are 300 shelters, miles of roads and parking lots, and acres of land. The upkeep of these assets is time consuming and costly, but I believe that residents, the owners of these parks, deserve well-maintained parks. As I told a young mom at the press conference, we are working to not only keep the parks around for her and her children but also her children’s children and beyond. These are worthy investments, and I am pleased to see progress, but we need to continue to do more.

Anyone with questions about the county parks is encouraged to contact me at 858-8850 or emailjohn.mills@erie.gov.

I also wanted to announce that at the Legislature’s Sept. 26 session, by unanimous approval, the 11-member body approved the three-year snowplow contract between the towns and Erie County. I believe this is a fair agreement, especially for the taxpayers. By using town plows that are already clearing roads, we can remove snow more efficiently. This agreement saves the county from having to increase its personnel and equipment, which would be necessary if the county were to plow its 1,200 lane miles alone.

I want to thank the town supervisors and highway superintendents who accepted my invitation to speak at the Sept. 17 Economic Development Committee. The conversation proved to be the catalyst for getting both sides back to the negotiating table, and an agreement was settled the very next day. With an agreement in place, crews can prepare for the first snowfall, but hopefully that isn’t any time soon.