By Indrek Kongats
On Friday, Oct. 21, NYS Senate Finance Committee Chair Senator Catharine Young addressed the 219 Association and Continental One committees at Holiday Valley.
Senator Young represents the 57th District, which includes Ellicottville, Salamanca, and all of the area under review for the proposed US 219 extension project in NYS.
The first order of business was for both the 219 Association and Continental One to show their tremendous appreciation for the great leadership and commitment that Senator Young has shown in the US Route 219 Completion Project, by presenting her with a plaque stating so.
Senator Young began by stating that both the 219 Association and Continental One are the “true heroes” in this effort to complete 219, including all the people since the 1950’s when the ball first started rolling. Senator Young stated that she still has one of the original bumper stickers from that era—“Finish 219”— on her desk as a daily reminder of the work that still needs to be done.
The most recent progress has come with the approval in the state budget for a second environmental impact study to be completed. The discussion with Senator Young was to focus on the SEIS from Peters Road to I-86 and the need for a consultant contract. NYSDOT project manager Craig Mozrall estimates a contract will take eight months to a year, sooner if Parsons Transportation, who worked on the original EIS, is chosen for the contract.
The first public information meeting would be held approximately six months after the project start date. The 219 Association and Continental One will need the public’s strong and positive interest and support for the Freeway Alternative of the completion project.
One of the many drawbacks of the project has been the fact that the NYSDOT Regional Director Darrell Kaminski retired and a replacement may not be in place until January.
Holiday Valley president Dennis Eshbaugh stated his concern that the director needs to be replaced quickly by someone with strong leadership in order to be an effective advocate for the project.
Senator Young also stated that NYS needs to be the leader in this project, not waiting as Albany has chosen to do, to see what the other states are doing and what they are committed to in completing their sections of the 219.
Finally, Senator Young stressed the extreme importance of gaining the support and trust from the Seneca Nation and to form a strong relationship with their new president to be elected Nov. 1 of this year.