Gowanda’s ‘Gateway’

GOWANDA – A former glue factory is getting new life. The former Peter Cooper site along Palmer Street in the village will be transformed into the Zoar Valley Gateway Park.

Representatives from TVGA Engineering Consultants and Peter J. Smith & Company Inc., a landscaping architectural firm, presented the village with a master site plan for the property. The former Peter Cooper site housed a glue factory that closed in 1985. The Gowanda Area Redevelopment Corp. assumed ownership of the site in 2009.

“It was a state superfund and it got delisted,” Mike Hutchinson, Gowanda Area Redevelopment Corp. member, said. “We spent a lot of years getting the (potential responsible parties) back here and getting them to clean it up. We cleaned the site up and it’s safe for human use. It’s no longer a threat to human health and the environment.”

GARC has received two grants for the project. The grants received were $57,000 for a New York State Parks Planning grant and $250,000 for a state Parks Construction grant. The $57,000 grant was for site design for the master plan for the site.

Molly Vendura of Peter J. Smith & Co. Inc. described the site plans to the board. The plans were designed with input from the community. The park will be split into two sections, one for active recreation and one for passive recreation. The active recreation will be closest to Broadway Road and will have a gazebo with lawn seating and a plaza that could double as an ice skating rink in winter. Also for winter activities, there will be room for a winter park for sledding or tubing.

The site plans calls for three overlook points – two with direct access to Cattaraugus Creek. The center outlook point will have access to the creek and have seating resembling natural elements along the hairpin access route. The passive recreation side of the park will feature picnic tables and green space. The park will be handicap accessible. Parking will be available at both ends of the park. Off-street parking will be angled and separate from Palmer Street.

“There’s some angled parking here and for safety will be separated from Palmer Street by a … grass island,” Vendura said. “That would keep it more safer when cars are backing up. They would not be backing up into traffic.”

A pathway around the park will expand off an already existing path along Cattaraugus Creek. Along this path will be frisbee golf locations. Commercial business spaces will be available in a concession stand near the central entrance and also near the farthest outlook at the southern end. The plan also calls for a basketball court, two softball fields and two soccer fields. The Village Board was excited about the site plan.

“I think this is fantastic. I commend all of you for all your progress,” Mayor Heather McKeever said. “To me, this is very exciting.”

Trustee Dale DeCarlo questioned about access for rescue boats if needed. Ed Schiller of TVGA said there will be ramp access at the farthest end of the park away from Broadway Street.

“There will be a ramp there at the southern end where people with canoes can carry them (down to the creek), you can use that,” he said.

The village approved to be the lead agency on the SEQRA. Village Attorney Deb Chadsey will file the paper work for the SEQRA. The board also brought up rezoning of the property from industrial to recreational. The Planning Board will start the process of looking into rezoning the property.

Construction on the site will begin in spring. By the end of summer, Hutchinson hopes the land will be graded and grass will be grown. The $250,000 grant will be used for grading, preparation and up to a foot of material spread across the site with the money being used until it runs out. GARC will apply for another construction grant later in the year. The site plan is available for view in the village hall on East Main Street.

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