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Phase I of Sturgeon Point Nature Trail moving forward in Evans

The Sturgeon Point Marina is getting an upgrade, as the Town of Evans is moving forward with Phase I of the Sturgeon Point Nature Trail.

The new project, to be developed on a 26.6 acre parcel located on the northeast side of Sturgeon Point Road. adjoining the marina, will feature a 590-feet long porous asphalt driveway leading to a 13-car parking lot, approximately 62-feet by 73-feet . There will be two pre-fabricated pavilion and barbeque areas with seating a charcoal grill, as well as 1,850 linear feet. of 6 feet wide wood chip/mulch walking paths. There will also be a 16 ft. octagonal gazebo overlooking Lake Erie.

“Erie County first offered the land to the town back in 1997-98, and we secured a grant in 2006 for the land, thinking it was going to be ours,” said Sandra Brant, Evans director of planning. “The grant, of $600,000, is a 50/50 match, $300,000 of which comes from the town. The county transferred the land in December of 2011 through the help and initiative of Chris Collins. I worked with the county and with the Department of State to hold onto the agreement to give us the land and hold onto grant dollars for this project.”

There is no cash outlay for the Town of Evans for this project because the town was able to use whatever the land was appraised at as their match for the grant. And for those think that perhaps the town could have used the property for more lucrative means, there are reasons they couldn’t.

“There were some residents that suggested that maybe this would be a good site for a hotel/motel because of the tourism we get at the marina, but after taking a look at the parcel itself, we discovered that over 50 percent of the land is federally protected wetlands,” Supervisor Keith Dash said. “Also, any new commercial construction would have to have infrastructure in place, namely a sewer line, which this property does not have. And, on top of that, in the original agreement, the county would sell us this property for $1 with the understanding that if we ever sell it to a developer, we would have to split the cost of what we got for the property.”

“It’s always been my belief that you want to give something back to the residents, so we put our heads together and said, what about greenspace, something that will both enhance and promote the marina while also promoting fitness and education. We also had to be mindful of the wetlands and lack of infrastructure, so we came up with a nature trail.” Keeping the space as natural as possible was another goal for the town and it appears, at least according to Dash, that this is a goal they will achieve.

“The only thing about this trail that’s non natural is the blacktop porous driveway that leads to a blacktop porous parking lot. I do not want this be confused, this is not a park. People are not going to be able to go down there and throw the Frisbee because it’s going to be left as is except for the cleared spot for the picnic shelters and up near the marina for the gazebo. And in-between, all through there, there will be mulch trails for people to walk, enjoy nature and enjoy the lake. It also serves as a different access to the marina.”

There will be no bathroom facilities at the Sturgeon Point Nature Trail because of security, maintenance and expense. There will also be a gateway at Sturgeon Point Road, with carriage lamps as well as a sign. Those lamps will serve as the only artificial light on the trail, in an effort to, again, keep the space as natural as possible.

Down the road, the town will be looking into a gate to go at the end of the driveway, as well as perhaps a set of rules to be posted.

Before making the project public, they met with the Sturgeon Point Advisory Committee in order to get their blessing.

“They were more than elated, and there was no one there with any negative connotations at all,” Dash said. “And those people that serve on that committee truly love their town and truly love the marina. To the point of being obsessed even, which is a good thing. They were ecstatic to find out that we were looking to enhance something that they are so passionate about.”

“I think this project is important in helping to accomplish two goals, to enhance the marina we already have, and also be able to hold onto the grant and not lose those monies,” Dash said. “It would be foolish for us to keep this grant alive and do nothing with it. This is the right time to do some positive with this property.”

All construction for the project will be bid out, and there is no need for volunteers at this time, though they could be needed down the road.

“The Town of Evans rest upon 12 miles of Lake Erie coastline, and there is nowhere as beautiful to watch and enjoy the sunset as your own town,” Dash said, “and now our residents will have a place to do just that.”

If everything goes according to the current planning schedule, the town plans to break ground on the Sturgeon Point Nature Trail the end of summer/early fall.

“We want this built this year,” Dash said. “We want to be able to put the gate across the gateway and that next year we will have the official opening in spring.”

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