|Propitious? The planned Subdivision of prominent Republican Jerald Wolfgang (above) has suddenly set in motion plans to solve serious and longstanding problems with the neighboring subdivision.
The Lewiston Town Board last week gave preliminary approval for a 27 lot subdivision of a 14 acre parcel located behind homes around the 4200 block of Lower River Rd. just south of the troubled Riverwalk subdivision.
The development, known as the Wolfgang project, is so named because the 14 acre parcel is owned by prominent Lewiston Republican Jerald I. Wolfgang who also lives on the 4200 block of Lower River Rd.
If plans get final approval, Wolfgang will be able to build in phases a new town road with ingress/egress from Riverwalk Dr. to accommodate 27 new single family homes, estimated to be around 2400 square feet each, with lot sizes of 75-by-150-feet.
The homes reportedly are expected to sell for $300,000 and more.
The purpose of the phases – which is not uncommon in development - is to allow the developer to build a few hundred feet of road, sell some lots/homes to recoup his investment then move to the next phase.
The Wolfgang project requires further approval by the town including a public hearing prior to final approval.
Lower River Rd, who have enjoyed having the privacy and woodland view of Wolfgang’s approximately 400 foot wide property behind their homes, have objected to his converting this wooded area into a subdivision at previous town meetings.
Wolfgang’s plans will leave a 50-feet wooded “buffer zone” between the backyards of the Lower River homes and his new subdivision.
Meantime Lewiston officials are now seriously discussing using as much as $200,000 of taxpayer money to solve longstanding drainage issues effecting the Riverwalk development just north of the proposed Wolfgang subdivision.
The town board has preliminary design plans to solve what has long been a health threat to the area because of pathogen infected standing water swamping on the north side of Riverwalk Dr.
It couldn’t come at a better time for Wolfgang since prospective buyers of the Wolfgang subdivision have to access it through Riverwalk Dr., where the swamp presently swells and recedes behind the road and at times creates a stench that gives olfactory evidence of its putridity.
If the drainage of the swamp is solved, it will be a boon not only to the homes on Riverwalk which are virtually unsaleable but will make the Wolfgang subdivision saleable.
In addition, Kristin Savard, of Advanced Design Group Professional Engineering & Surveying, P.C., whose firm design-engineered the Wolfgang subdivision, said the town’s drainage plans for Riverwalk may aid drainage plans for Wolfgang.
According to previously published reports part of Wolfgang’s drainage plans include retention ponds and so-called rain garden ponds which typically with the user of sand collect storm water runoff and help cleanse it of contaminants.
But should Wolfgang be able to tie into the planned 800 feet of 24 inch drainage pipe the town plans to install to connect with another larger drainage pipe in the Joseph Davis State Park to solve Riverwalk’s swamping problems, it could also solve Wolfgang drainage issues and potentially save the developer considerable money.
Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey said whether or not Wolfgang could feasibly tie in is not been determined.
The Lewiston Sentinel reported that “Savard said drainage issues in the area, similar to those still affecting the nearby River Walk subdivision, were factored in, with design work intended to tie in the Wolfgang parcel to the town's remedial drainage improvements planned for River Walk. That project, still in the works with the town and State Parks, would involve the town utilizing easements in nearby Joseph Davis State Park to connect with outflow conduits that would go under Lower River Road to alleviate drainage.”
"We've incorporated plans to drain off residents' backyards into the town's plans for Lower River Road," Savard was quoted as saying in the Sentinal last week at town hall for a town board meeting.
Wolfgang, an adjunct professor at Niagara University, and an executive director of the Western New York Regional Education Center for Economic Development, was appointed by the Republican controlled County legislature to the board of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency when Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker retired last year.
Wolfgang is a former Niagara County Republican chairman and former secretary of the Republican State Committee.
Savard said once all considerations are addressed with respect to drainage, etc., the Wolfgang subdivision proposal would return to the Town Board for the scheduling of a public hearing.
While the timing might be purely a coincidence, Wolfgang’s planned subdivision, combined with his powerful position in Republican circles, might help to explain the Republican town board’s interest in fixing a drainage problem that has haunted residents on Riverwalk since at least 2006.
It might also explain why the town board is now pushing a 10 year old request from the Lewiston Fire Board to remove the dead-end barricades on the two disconnected sections of River Walk Drive to make the cinder and dirt road connecting the two accessible for emergency vehicles from both Lower River Road to Pletcher Road.
Council member Ron Winkley said the improved access would not only benefit emergency services to Riverwalk Dr. but would also benefit the planned Wolfgang subdivision.
Highway Superintendent Doug Janese told the Niagara Falls Reporter that the developer of Riverwalk never finished the road and that the area between the two sections of Riverwalk which have dead-end barricades blocking them off from the cinder road is not owned by the town.
Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey said that the developer/owner Joseph Deck Jr should be held accountable for finishing the road as part of the originally approved plans which includes running water lines.
Winkley said Deck should at least make a connecting road that is safe or emergency vehicles.