Parks and Threats to our space

Scenic Woods stretching from the East River shoreline westward to Sturbridge Lane

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by Nate McMurray
Town Supervisor of Grand Island

Since I have been Supervisor of Grand Island, I have met with developers who have come to my office trying to hawk the white elephant gift of sprawl as a solution to Grand Island’s problems. 

Let me say it here clearly, “I DON’T WANT IT.” 
You can keep your cloned apartment complexes and cut rate subdivisions. We don’t have the infrastructure to support it. And further, there is no apparent need or desire to have it. I don’t have droves of people coming in demanding more apartments. Quite the opposite.

Let me also say this clearly, “I did not, and do not support the apartments on Grand Island Blvd.” That was  underway before I took office.

I hope the apartments are a success, but I miss the green space that was there. Those apartments (no matter how fancy they claim to be) were a mistake. It’s too big, too costly, and poorly conceived.
I’m not just against superfluous apartments. I don’t want big box stores covering Grand Island either. I would support (and am actively trying to find) a grocery store that would come here. But you can keep Walmart. Would a few chains make Grand Island a more convenient place to live? Maybe. But at what cost to our existing stores and our town?
The path to success for Grand Island is keeping it unique and protecting its green space and not mimic the failed development schemes of other cities and towns in America.

Master Plan

Some people think a Master Plan means a plan to carve up the Island for developers. Or they think we should sell out to the big box chains.

I have seen the circles of decaying apartment complexes and strip malls in  Phoenix and Houston. Once they build one complex, they are off to the next, with each layer of development leaving its predecessor behind to decay.

Never been to those places? Well, try Amherst. There are many empty and ugly buildings in Amherst. Remember, when you build something, it might last many years. And it might not. Even the much-vaunted Clarence has its fair share of empty gas stations and beaten down plazas—it’s not a plague unique to Grand Island Boulevard. 
That’s why proper zoning and long-term planning matter. That’s why we are working on the Master Plan.

I want to build—parks! 

I am supportive of ecotourism, snowmobiling, kayaking, and hiking and I recently wrote about our most recent attempt to protect farming on Grand Island. I fought for the West River Parkway project, working with the State.

If you think parks don’t make money, they are the hub of a $646 billion recreational industry. And today, I’m proud to announce that the much talked about Scenic Woods Project will be completed this year.


  Scenic Woods stretching from the East River shoreline westward to Sturbridge Lane

Scenic Woods stretching from the East River shoreline westward to Sturbridge Lane

Scenic Woods is a 220-acre wooded and green space the town has long sought to turn into a nature refuge with trails and boardwalks. The town was awarded a grant to complete Phase 1  before I was in office. The grant lapsed because of lack of progress.  Once Greenway grants lapse, it’s almost impossible to revive them. But w
ith much effort and persistence, we were able to restore the grant. There is more work to do. I’m already working on the grant for Phase 2  which is the trail to the river.

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