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Williamsville opens newer, environmentally-minded village square

The Village of Williamville is marking completion of a three-year project that converted a frequently-visited nook into a more environmentally friendly space.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held on Spring Street, located off Main Street, where $3.45 million was spent to repave and redevelop that street, nearby Rock Street and the Williamsville Water Mill infrastructure.

Changes include new sidewalks and curbing and the introduction of bioretention planters featuring shrubs and other vegetation. Those planters accept storm water running off the street and, after the plants are nourished, leaves cleaner water to be discharged into nearby Ellicott Creek.

"Forever and a day, this was a back alley that shed water across the Onondaga Escarpment, down a cliff and directly into our creek, causing flooding and erosion problems, causing silting problems in our park ponds, causing pollutants to enter the creek," said Williamsville mayor Brian Kulpa.

The project was funded by a mix of federal, state and local dollars. New York State provided most of the money, offering $250,000 to build out a public plaza. Additionally, $1.9 million came from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Water Quality Improvement Program while $500,000 came from state historic preservation grant funding. The federal government provided $800,000.

State Assemblyman Ray Walter explained that Albany has committed $2.5 billion for infrastructure projects statewide that include environmentally-conscious projects. 

"It's making sure we're protecting marsh lands and areas that are under stress," Walter said. "We're making sure we're protecting those areas to protect the source of our water as well."

The village plaza resulting from this reconstruction will serve as a home during the summer months to live music every Thursday night and a farmers market on Saturdays.

Nestled within the corner, located inside a historic mill house dating back to 1811, is Sweet Jenny's. Howard Cadmus owns the popular ice cream and chocolate shop. While he admitted it was a leap of faith to acquire the mill building and a matter of patience during the construction outside, he is pleased with the end result and what it may do for the water quality of neighboring Glen Falls.

"I have a one-and-a-half year old and we walk the park every day," Cadmus said. "When the ducks are out, we see the ducks. We like to walk the park and knowing it's a little bit safer and a little bit healthier, that it'll have a longer, healthier life is important to us."

The new infrastructure has already been put to the test during some of the spring's significant rainfalls. Mayor Kulpa said the village was awaiting results from Glen Falls but it appeared that so far, the system was working.

"The water's moving correctly," he said. "We're getting what we thought we were going to get in terms of catchment and filtration."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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