GOWANDA - Residents in Gowanda came to the school board meeting to voice their concerns about the Gowanda Board of Education not acting on a grant opportunity at the last meeting.
Three residents had their concerns about the board not pursuing the Safe Routes to School grant opportunity with the village of Gowanda. Residents Irene Koch, Mike Hutchinson and Delaney Peters all spoke on behalf of supporting the grant. Koch said it is important to seize grant opportunities.
"It's important to note these fully funded grants are hard to come by," said Koch. "The school district's failure to cooperate puts the grant in trouble."
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Irene Koch was one of three residents who expressed their concerns about the Gowanda Board of Education not pursuing the Safe Routes to School grant.
She said the grant would improve sidewalks in the community in addition to improving pedestrian safety. Hutchinson said the Safe Routes to School grant had a unique application for including the creekside trail. He also said by not pursuing the creekside trail, the district may lose the funding.
"If you eliminate that from the grant, it's very likely you'll lose the grant," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said money within the grant will help the district make repairs and improvements to Hillis Field where the proposed trail is going to be located. Hutchinson said there is money for fence repairs and shrubbery removal included in the grant. The district would have final approval on the trail's design plans.
"Safe Routes to School is not about the most direct route to school but to encourage more physical activity," Hutchinson said.
Peters said the district should not say no to the grant opportunity. He said the creekside trail could create more interest in the district attracting more residents to move into the village subsequently creating a bigger tax base.
"It's foolish and irresponsible to just say no," said Peters. "It seems ridiculous to have an opportunity sitting there and walk away."
The board of education did not comment further on the grant at the meeting. The board also appointed Ross John as volunteer girls basketball coach and accepted the resignation of Donna Pfleuger as a cleaner. The next meeting will be held on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. in the middle school library.
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