Tonawanda News

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February 12, 2014

Another study, but more movement

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Common Council on Tuesday discussed its next move for the fulfillment of a master plan on Tonawanda Island, where for years the concept of adding hundreds of new residential units with mixed use has been on the drawing board. 

Yet with large swaths of acreage littered with toxic waste, that scenario is still years from being brought to fruition. 

However, the city took steps this week to launch into a second phase of an application for a Brownfield Opportunity Area Nomination Study, which, if attained, could fund the early phases of development on roughly 546 acres of land along the Niagara River. 

But with multi-staged bureaucratic requirement that often goes hand in hand with the obtainment of funding in New York state, the city must first declare itself the lead agency for an environmental assessment and create a “generic environmental impact statement” for issues linked to the island’s brownfields — both entities that could be approved during next week’s council meeting.  

Richard Tindell, director of the city’s community development arm, told the council during a work session Tuesday, that as the city fulfills its step-by-step obligations, it moves ever closer to bringing the 300 new residential units to the island. 

“These measures would take down a bureaucratic hurdle for development,” Tindell said. 

The city first formed the master plan that includes part of the mainland along River Road in 2010. In 2012, New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales promised $423,000 more for the next, which could begin as soon as late summer and would involve the first real movement toward shovels in the ground. 

The funding would be used for rezoning much of the island as mixed use, rather than the present commercial and industrial designations. Another $175,000 state grant was used as part of the planning process more than four years ago. 

But before any grand plans for waterfront development are realized, officials said proper planning is required.

“You got to have the vision first,” said Mayor Rob Ortt. 

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