Tonawanda News

December 13, 2013

Carrousel museum to begin new work

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Among the many hundreds of thousands of dollars that will go to North Tonawanda following Wednesday’s announcement of the annual release of state funding through the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, one local non-profit may have benefited the most. 

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum was awarded twice the amount for which it had applied, after workers submitted the same application three times to three state entities in an effort to refurbish a building on the rear of it property, the Allan Herschell Office Building, a project estimated to cost $269,000 to complete. 

Through the competitive process of consolidated funding applications launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011 and doled out by the Regional Economic Development Councils across the state, the museum was informed Wednesday it will receive $134,000 from the Empire State Development Corp., which would have required a matching contribution and caused the museum to begin a fundraising push. 

But in a surprise revelation, after receiving the word from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger’s office, who is a member of the Western New York council, the museum was also rewarded a second $134,450 grant, through the Canalway Matching Grant Program. 

That means the museum can focus on starting the project rather than funding it, according to Rae Proefrock, the museum director. 

“It’s just too good to be true,” she said. “This is basically the last structure that needs to be restored and put to a new use, the last historic part of the complex. Anything else we dream up down the road will be new projects.” 

What is often criticized as a confusing and unnecessary jumble of state agencies has worked the museum’s advantage and will allow the its leaders to focus on a project that would turn the building — once used by Allan Herschell to formulate his design plan — into an education center and special events space. Proefrock said it could begin as soon as the fall of 2014. 

The funding will be used to place a new foundation, reconstruct the original roof line, and repair windows, doors, siding, mechanical systems, plumbing and other site improvements. 

“The funding awarded will have a great impact on historic landmarks in the City of North Tonawanda, as well as our waterfront and commercial areas,” Schimminger said in a statement released this week. “I am very pleased to see state dollars brought home and put to good use.”