By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Common Council approved a lease agreement on Tuesday for an expanded concert series at Gratwick Riverside Park beginning in June.
The Lumber City series, called Cornerstone's Niagara River Rocks, began last year with a widely attended one-time show that drew more than 10,000 people and 60 to 70 boats to the banks of the Niagara River during the height of the warm summer months.
Promoter Kathy Paradowski met with the council last week to discuss the idiosyncrasies of this year's concerts, which will include expanding communication capabilities and a "triage" center for those requiring medical attention.
Paradowski, who previously put on shows at Gateway Harbor before moving the series up the canal to Lockport, refused to confirm whether the band Primus would headline the opening show on June 9, citing continued negotiations, though the musical group recently indicated that it would be the headlining act. The other concert headliners will likely be announced in April with shows following on July 14 and Aug. 25.
City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said the deal will entail a one-year lease with a three year option. The terms of the lease dictate that all three shows, held on Sundays, would begin no earlier than 4 p.m. and end no later than 11 p.m. to comply with the city's noise ordinance. It also states that the promoter will schedule two to three bands for each show, while Paradowski said last week that she would attempt to incorporate local bands as opening acts.
Niagara River Rocks will be charged $350 rent for each free show, though several council members say the economic benefits of having having thousands attend the concert will have far-reaching benefits for local businesses.
Mayor Rob Ortt said last year's concert served as a testing ground for a possible expansion of Gratwick concerts that could become a fixture on the city's waterfront.
"Everything seemed to work out well," he said. "The show (last year) was great. We'll have the new Lumberjack's restaurant next to the park. There's an energy and synergy starting to happen on the river that is already taking place downtown and on the canal."
The lease has yet to be signed by Niagara River Rocks Inc., Paradowski's promotion company.
The council's decision took place during "Government Day" in the city. Nine North Tonawanda High School students sat in place of government officials on Tuesday and also toured city development projects with high school teacher and council President Rich Andres.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.