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

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins says the narrow, unseasonably wet trails at Tifft Nature Preserve are enough reason to bring a new path into the picture — one that would make it easier for people with physical disabilities to visit.

The Democrat met up with Buffalo Museum of Science President and CEO Marisa Wigglesworth on Thursday morning to advocate for this. Also joining them were Buffalo Common Councilmember Chris Scanlon, CHC Learning Center Board President 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,” Sen. Tim Kennedy says.

Together, the group shared their support for a new ADA-accessible trail — something that could be incorporated into the ongoing plans for improving Buffalo’s waterfront. The idea is to make it easier for people with limited mobility, such as those who require a wheelchair, to experience the nature preserve.

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

And to create the trail itself, a half-mile loop would have to be transformed. This loop begins at the Herb & Jane Darling Environmental Education Center, leading visitors through the woods and around the Heritage Boardwalk. The boardwalk would see a complete rebuild with a wider walkway, according to the plans.

In addition to that, Higgins’ office says new concrete walkways, a welcome kiosk at the trailhead, a compacted stone dust trail surface and simplified trail intersections are part of the plan for TIfft’s improvement, as well.

The signage around the preserve’s current trails could use some sprucing up, too, 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 promised $75,000, and the museum is requesting another $500,000 in funding through the New York Power Authority federal relicensing settlement through the Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Fund.

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

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

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