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Groundbreaking Ceremony Opens Construction Phase at Mill Road Scenic Overlook | Environment

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Groundbreaking Ceremony Opens Construction Phase at Mill Road Scenic Overlook
Environment, News
Groundbreaking Ceremony Opens Construction Phase at Mill Road Scenic Overlook


A groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, June 13, kicked off the construction phase of the long-awaited Mill Road Scenic Overlook in the Town of Aurora. 

The 60-acre Mill Road Scenic Overlook property was protected at the end of 2013 after a successful, multi-year, $650,000 capital campaign. The Town of Aurora now owns the property and the Land Conservancy holds a conservation easement on it, protecting it in perpetuity from development. The property is an iconic feature of the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway and the pull-off along Mill Road will allow visitors to safely experience the spectacular views across the broad valley below.

The overlook is breathtaking in all seasons with wildflowers currently blooming, colorful foliage in fall, and snow-draped evergreens in winter. It is also home to important wildlife like the playful bobolinks that grace the meadow.  Bobolinks, like other grassland nesting birds, are in decline across the state as their open meadow habitat is often lost to development.

Town of Aurora Supervisor Jim Bach, said, “I am proud to have been a part of this work. The Mill Road Scenic Overlook will remain part our town’s heritage for generations to come. It will become a regional destination for visitors looking to experience the outdoors, and will complement the emerging recreational tourism economy anchored by nearby Knox Farm State Park, county parks like Chestnut Ridge, Emery, and Hunters Creek, and many other wonderful local parks and nature preserves.”

This major community accomplishment saw hundreds of donations come in from local individuals and businesses, as well as a $50,000 anonymous donation, $50,000 from Gerhard and Ellen Neumaier, and $200,000 from Scott Bieler and Kathy Lasher. Financial support also included $20,000 from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and $75,000 from The John R. Oishei Foundation. The project also received in-kind donations from William Schutt & Associates, LaBella Associates PC, Earth Dimensions, Inc., and C&S Engineers, Inc.  C & S Engineers donated the design work for the pull-off so they have been an especially important partner in recent months.

According to Friends of Mill Road Co-Chair Kathy Lasher, “This project exemplifies the community spirit of Western New York. It was championed by a volunteer citizens group, the Friends of Mill Road, and supported by the property owners, the Town of Aurora, and the Land Conservancy. In the end, nearly all of the money for this project came from right here, from the people in our region.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have this come to fruition this year,” Lasher added. “I applaud the land owners, donors and public officials for their efforts during our four-year capital campaign. It was a tremendous collaborative effort between community leaders, citizens, business and foundations and I couldn’t be more proud of the success of this campaign.”

Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Western New York Land Conservancy and Co-Chair of the Friends of Mill Road, highlighted the ongoing cooperative partnerships that made it possible to begin the construction of the overlook this week. “We are so grateful to Town Supervisor Jim Bach, Town Board Member Sue Friess, Highway Superintendent Dave Gunner, Paul Warner from American Paving & Excavating and representatives from Erie County. We would not be here today without an exceptional level of problem-solving and collaboration. Our goal is to make this community asset more accessible to the residents of WNY and that has been made possible by the flexibility and cooperative spirit that you see reflected in today’s gathering.”

The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York for future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which forests, meadows, farms, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty are cherished and protected as part of the landscape and character of Western New York. The Land Conservancy is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years. For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, please call (716) 687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org.

The John R. Oishei Foundation strives to be a catalyst for change to enhance economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership and network building. The Foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corporation.

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