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Community divide over Grand Island bike path

Posted at 11:38 PM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 23:36:45-04

A proposed bike path would connect Buffalo to Niagara Falls and would cost the state millions of dollars. But not everybody, especially the people closest to the project, is on board with the plan.

The bike path is planned to replace the West River Parkway. In a closed door meeting held by the West River Home Owners Association, 127 of 136 people who live on or near the road who attended the meeting say they oppose the state closing the parkway. Most in that meeting say they have no problem with a bike path, but believe closing the parkway would bring too much traffic to the parallel access road.

The Grand Island town supervisor is in favor of closing the parkway to build the bike path. He says ground breaking for the project could start as early as next summer. 

“It's hurtful to hear this, but, it's not their property. It's the state's property and in the end they'll make a decision that they think is right for the state and for all of the people of western New York, and all the people of Grand Island. Based on the totality of the feedback, not just the feedback of the people living right there,” said Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray.

“I'm not against bike paths. I'm fine with that. But let's get on the same page and let's do something that is going to grant access to the water and not create barriers,” said Mike McDonough, who lives along West River.

There were two meetings going on Monday night in Grand Island about the proposed bike path. The Town of Grand Island Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously pledged their support for the project. 

Earlier this summer Grand Island's town board voted to urge New York State to reject the proposed bike path.

A Pedal Party took place the afternoon of Friday, August 26th, where several Grand Island residents shared their thoughts on the possible bike path.

"I don't really see a concern of the traffic," said Kelly Petrie, who lives walking distance from the parkway. "Statistics that I see show that there's more traffic on East River Road. How did all of the residents on East River Road survive all this time without an extra road to travel on?"

Slow Roll co-founder Seamus Galliban remembers the last time he biked through Grand Island to get to Niagara Falls, and just how difficult it was.

"It wasn't easy to get through Grand Island on a bike from Buffalo to Niagara Falls," Galliban recalled. "So what's going on in West River is just one of many examples of around Western New York where communities are working to be more bicycle friendly and the better we do that in each individual community, the easier it will be for us to get around."

A man who lives on the street parallel to the parkway, West River Road, attended to support his friend, but does not support the project for three main reasons.

"Most certainly safety and traffic patterns changing, but at the same time, I think it's a waste of a huge amount of money without any benefit," said Tahir Qazi. "With a bigger number of vehicles going on the service road, the possibilities of accidents and hence the safety concerns obviously they are real, and a concern for all the residents."