Tonawanda News

February 20, 2013

City, town seek waterfront funding

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Tonawanda officials vying for funding for two local projects presented proposals Tuesday afternoon to the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee, a source of money for the development of parks, waterfront and landscapes.

The City of Tonawanda and Town of Tonawanda were just two presenters of 15, a number that has grown since the committee’s inception in 2007 as part of the settlement agreement with the New York Power Authority. 

“Every year we are getting more proposals and more interest,” Gary Mucci, chairman of the committee said. “And the projects themselves are also improving.”

The 15 presenters asked for a total of $6.2 million for various projects in Erie County. 

As part of the 50-year licensing agreement with NYPA for the Niagara Power Project, the Buffalo and Erie committee has $2 million at its disposal every year to fund such projects. 

“Some will be disappointed,” Mucci said.

Greenway funding has already gone a long way in the Tonawandas. A total of $89,250 from the committee has already been used to construct the City of Tonawanda’s Eastern Park kayak launch, and $866,970 went toward the new pavilion in Niawanda Park — which will have its grand opening this spring. 

The city has also received $250,000 worth of funding for the shoreline stabilization project, which is attempting to control erosion from the water and wind. 

This time around, the City of Tonawanda is hoping to receive $210,000 of the available funds for a handicapped-accessible fishing pier at Long Homestead.

City Engineer Jason LaMonaco said the project is ready to begin and the city has received all the necessary permits — a process that took a year and a half.

“With hard and soft costs, the project will cost $425,000,” LaMonaco said. 

Major construction of the fishing pier, which will

measure 1,000 square feet, will hopefully be complete by the end of 2013, with planting and work on parts of the eroded land to be finished in the spring of 2014.

The Town of Tonawanda asked for $75,000 that would cover costs for a six-month consultation study to determine how to improve the landscaping of the town’s waterfront. 

“We seek to improve the traveler’s experience by enhancing the natural beauty of our six miles of shoreline of the Niagara River,” Jim Jones, town engineer, said. 

Jones said the landscaping project would improve environmental conditions, change negative perceptions about the waterfront and create a better climate for future investment along the waterfront. 

The town and the consultant would consider three alternatives and their related costs to identify the best way of improving the corridor. 

Other presenters included representatives from the Buffalo Museum of Science’s Tifft Education Center who hope to build an additional structure to accommodate more guests, the Zoological Society for improvements at the Buffalo Zoo and the Old First Ward Community Center for a public access dock in the industrial area of Buffalo’s waterfront, Silo City. 

The committee will announce its decisions regarding allocation of the funds in March. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150