Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — The committee tasked with allocating $50,000 in streetscape improvements as part of the $477,000 grant won by the Town of Albion last year would like to turn a Main Street space into a historic attraction honoring the area’s quarry heritage.
The Orleans County Quarrymen’s Memorial Park would be placed on a village-owned lot where a building was demolished last year with the intention to provide enhanced parking in order to attract more businesses downtown.
Tom Rivers, who chairs the Downtown Albion Neighborhood Advisory Committee’s streetscape sub-committee, said his group has a greener solution, which he outlined Wednesday at the Albion Village Board meeting.
“We dreamed a bit and thought a memorial site like other communities with dominant industries have,” said Rivers, who cited statues honoring
fishermen, coal miners, steel workers and lumberjacks as the inspiration for park honoring the workers who built the area’s fine sandstone structures.
Rivers said $30,000 in grant funding could be used for work at the site, with a $100,000 capital project funding a sandstone scene anchored by a bronze quarryman. The figure’s arm would be raised, hammer aloft, above a spike in the sandstone. It would be flanked by the national flags for the four waves of immigrants that worked in quarries throughout Orleans County — Italians, Irish, Polish and British.
“This site would tie together the three villages, play up the sandstone architecture and be a portal to understand how this all happened,” Rivers said. “There’s thousands of descendants of the quarrymen here. This is something to take pride in … not just the buildings, but the people around here.”
Village officials voiced general support for the project, but expressed hope that the proposed park would not preclude other uses for the site. Trustee Pete Sidari said the plan had his support if it could work “logistically and fiscally.”
“Albion needs something unique to Albion that brings people into town,” Sidari said. “Something like this could do it.”
With the project just one of several ideas for projects had by the committee — Albion Main Street Alliance Executive Director Katelin Olson said a variety of flower planters, trees, benches and signage is being considered — Rivers’ proposal did not include exact details about the amount of land needed for the park.
“I want to see how it would be laid out,” said Trustee Kevin Sheehan, who cited the additional parking as an enticement in his efforts to bring a Batavia law firm employing 50 to 60 people to Albion. “Incorporating both is the key.”
If the community support is strong, the quarryman could be in place by 2014, Rivers said. Other parts of the projects would need to be completed earlier.
“Everything has to be completed by December 2013,” Olson told the board. “This is a viable plan that would provide an incredible visual impact for the downtown, but if this isn’t a go, we would need to look elsewhere.”
Mayor Dean Theodorakos expressed support for the project, but said that surveying and engineering work on the site is needed before any action — whether it’s the park, parking or both — can be taken.
“I wonder if we can accomplish what you proposed and still enhance parking,” Theodorakos said. “I like the idea, I think there’s a way you could lay it out in a way to do both.”
Water works expansion
Theodorakos said that the village has managed the costs of the water department well in recent years, but with competition from both Niagara and Monroe Counties the village may look to take on water services in the Village of Holley.
Codes Enforcement Officer Ronald Vendetti, who holds the same job in Holley, said that the village is interested in either buying water from Albion or having Albion take over their existing water system.
“I’m proposing, if they can get a grant to get ride of their debt (on the water system), why aren’t we interested? ,” Vendetti said. “If we want to compete (with Monroe and Niagara counties), we need to grab as much as we can ... if we’re creative it will give us another customer.”
Holley would get a good deal if they bought water from Albion, Theodorakos said. Village water prices have not increased in six years, he noted, with water prices to the towns that are supplied by the village seeing no bump in ten years.
“If you look elsewhere, they seem to go up every year,” he said. “We haven’t raised prices on anyone.”