Higgins and Kennedy push for an ADA-accessible trail at Tifft Nature Preserve

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins says the narrow and exceptionally wet trails at Tifft Nature Preserve are reason enough to open a new path — one that would make it easier for people with physical disabilities to visit.

The Democrat met with Buffalo Museum of Science President and CEO Marisa Wigglesworth on Thursday morning to make the case for it. Also joining them were Buffalo Common Council member Chris Scanlon, CHC Learning Center Chairman Mike Golebiewski, and New York State Senator Tim Kennedy.

“Tifft Nature Preserve is one of our region’s crown jewels that has provided an oasis of calm and peace to countless visitors during the pandemic,” said Senator Tim Kennedy.

Together, the group shared their support for a new ADA-accessible trail — something that could be incorporated into ongoing plans to improve Buffalo’s waterfront. The idea is to allow people with reduced mobility, such as those who need a wheelchair, to discover the nature reserve.

To help accomplish this, Higgins announced plans to add 100 new acres of parkland to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. Higgins hopes to see that take shape over 24 months.

And to create the trail itself would require transforming a half mile loop. This loop begins at the Herb & Jane Darling Environmental Education Center, leading visitors through the woods and around the Heritage Walk. The promenade would see a complete rebuild with a wider walkway, according to plans.

In addition to that, Higgins’ office says new concrete walkways, a trailhead welcome kiosk, compacted stone dust trail surface, and streamlined trail intersections are also part of the improvement plan. by TIft.

Signage around the reservation’s current trails could also be improved, according to Higgins’ office.

It’s a $1.6 million project. This budget, proposed by the Buffalo Museum of Science, includes funding for construction, signage, research and design.

The Montgomery Family Foundation and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund have pledged $75,000, and the museum is seeking additional funding of $500,000 through the New York Power Authority’s federal license renewal settlement through from the Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Fund.

“These proposed funds would help make these improvements to Tifft possible and allow us to accelerate the pace at which we can make this unique resource in Buffalo accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability,” Wigglesworth said.

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been on the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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