Grand Island campground excavates its clay for profit

Monday, Jul 5 2010
Elaine Pariso and Don Benoit are two of four partners, at the Branches of Niagara Campground & Resort on Grand Island. The partners sold clay dug up from their land and turned the hole into a lake. - Charles Lewis/Buffalo News

Buffalo News
By George Pyle


Updated: July 05, 2010, 11:30 pm

Published: July 06, 2010, 6:30 am

Partners sell product, convert hole into lake

It has been said that you have to spend money to make money. And sometimes you have to sell land to develop land. The four partners who in May opened the Branches of Niagara Campground and Resort on Grand Island did all of that, with an unusual and lucrative twist.

First they bought some 90 acres of woodland on Whitehaven Road. Then they subdivided and sold lots along that main county road to help fund the original purchase and the development of the campground that was to take shape in the woods behind. Pretty straightforward so far.

Then came the real bonanza.

“Grand Island is made of clay,” explained Elaine Pariso, one of the partners.

It’s a kind of clay that can be very valuable to a few businesses, she said. It makes a good cover for toxic landfills, of which there are a few in the Niagara Falls area.

“We dug some test holes and prayed a lot,” Pariso said. “It was a key part of our business plan to sell the clay to finance the project.”

Then one day, their prayers were answered. Pariso left a crew from the mining firm to carry out their tests, and before she could make it back into town to meet her partners for lunch, her cell phone rang.

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The Branches on Grand Island is a dream come true for its four owners

Sunday, Jun 27 2010
Niagara Falls Gazette Photo - June 27, 2010 - RV Park, Tent Camping, Cabin Camping on Grand Island, NY

Niagara Gazette
By Michele Deluca

GRAND ISLAND — Sometimes it takes a really long time to make dreams come true.

In the case of a quartet of partners seeking to build a campground on Grand Island, it took about seven years. But the group, connected through their Christian community, persevered through all levels of government until just recently a campground in the woods emerged with a lake and swimming pool, camping sites, and log cabins.

They struggled a bit to find just the right name for their facility.

“We came up with all these names and they were awful,” said Larry Stolzenburg, a former Grand Islander who now lives in Clarence. Somebody mentioned naming the place Branches, due to the two branches of the nearby Niagara River and the branches of the trees that are thick throughout the campground. But, also, as a way to honor their faith.

“Jesus said I am the vine, you are the branches,” Stolzenburg said. “We all thought, yeah, that’s a nice name.”

The idea to build a campground came from a lifelong dream of Don Benoit, a Grand Island resident who one day, just by way of conversation, shared his dream with Elaine Pariso, a fellow church member at Whitehaven Road Baptist Church.

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Branches Of Niagara Campground Open House - June 2010

Thursday, Jun 3 2010
Branches Of Niagara Campground Open House - June 2010 -

IsledeGrand.Com News

After many years of planning and developing, Branches of Niagara Campground & Resort is open. Located at 2659 Whitehaven, west of the 190, it is a sight to see and you're invited to do so at an open house, planned for Saturday, June 12th from noon - 5:30 p.m. Tour the 70 acre upscale campground and see the log cabins and general store, playground area complete with climbing wall, lookout, slides and swings and a volleyball court. The 7 1/2 acre lake is stocked with fish, and canoes and kayaks are available for cruising. Island resident and partner Larry Stolzenburg says, “this is not your average mom and pop campground”.

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Branches of Niagara Campground • 2659 Whitehaven Road • Grand Island, NY 14072 • 1-877-321-CAMP

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