Tonawanda News

December 12, 2012

North Tonawanda looks to a busy year ahead

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — With one project nearly complete and a slew of others waiting to be started, North Tonawanda’s engineering department will have a busy year ahead, encompassing just under $8 million in construction across the city. 

While the northwest storm sewer project’s second phase has just about been wrapped up, alleviating long standing problems with flooded homes and yards along Witmer Road, city engineer Dale Marshall said a host of other projects — including extensive work on the Gratwick-Riverside Park Marina, Meadow Drive’s extension, and the reconstruction of the Frederick B. Durkee Memorial Bridge, among others — will be launched or continued in 2013. 

“The final piece is the restoration of the wetlands in the area,” Marshall said. 

Chief among them is the marina project, with much of the work being timed to correlate to the opening of the Lumberjacks Patio Bar and Grill inside the city-owned clubhouse formerly housing the Niagara River aYacht Club. 

The $1.25 million project will include dredging of the marina in March, as well as the continued rebuilding of the marina’s retaining wall, new boat slips and docks, the construction of a public restroom and parking lot paving. 

Marshall said he wants to have the projects out to bid by February to ensure a strong start to the construction season the following month.  Much of the marina resuscitation is being funded by federal and state grants, with a $255,000 coming from the city. 

The extension of Meadow Drive has been on the back-burner since 2007, largely due to the need to work with CSX Rail company, which had to give approval for easements along the road near the company’s property. A re-designation of wetlands and the acquisition of three privately owned parcels also held up the project, though Marshall indicated that the $2.3 million project should progress this summer after the city obtains the deeds next week, according to City Attorney Shawn Nickerson. 

“We were supposed to have this out to bid before Walmart had opened,” Marshall said, speaking to the city’s stance that the extension was needed in part due to increase traffic along Erie Avenue. 

Durkee Bridge, as it’s known, would cost $2.5 million to repair, with $1.8 million of that coming from the federal government, while North Tonawanda would contribute $375,000 that already was bonded in 2007. 

Marshall’s department also would oversee a $524,000 Webster Street rain garden initiative that would divert polluted water away from the Erie Canal, a $630,000 project that will add a water pump station to Sherwood Avenue and a $20,000 9/11 Memorial next to the North Tonawanda Fire Department on Zimmerman that will incorporate a piece of steel from the Twin Towers. Additionally, other small projects will be added to the mix. 

The Webster Street rain garden will likely be the last to be completed, while the 9/11 project is expected to be complete by the 12th anniversary of the 2001 attacks. 

Alderwoman-At-Large commended what she described as Mayor Rob Ortt’s hard work and initiative to bring the large scale projects to fruition, along with his staff, during Tuesday’s work session meeting. 

“It’s enjoyable when they’re done,” Ortt responded. “I like challenges and this has been one of them.”  

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.