Tonawanda News — It’s been on the back burner for longer than anyone cares to remember.
But after more than a decade North Tonawanda is nearing the final stages of a Meadow Drive expansion plan, held to a standstill during several rounds of bureaucratic wrangling.
While the blueprint for the extension is in place and the city has already cleared several hurdles, which included convincing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to lift a wetland designation in the area of the project and ebbing residents’ concerns about an explosive commercial district, officials still had to cultivate the rights to four small parcels of land.
One was purchased from a business and another foreclosed upon during the last year, leaving both in the city’s hands.
The final two properties required an easement pact with the CSX rail company, which owns the rail line and the nearby plots of land, with efforts to acquire the the rights to pass through it dating back to previous administrations.
It was during former Mayor Larry Soos’ reign that City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said he needed to persuade a judge to grant the easements through court proceedings. He was successful, but at the time he said there would be challenges to come.
“Once that happened, once that hearing took place, it’s kind of been stuck in the bureaucracy of CSX,” Nickerson said. “It’s been a red tape nightmare dealing with them, they’re a huge corporation. The biggest roadblock so far has been CSX.”
Yet, with concerns rising among the city’s governmental hierarchy about the length of the process, including the consternation of Mayor Rob Ortt, Nickerson said the current administration redoubled its resolve.
“The mayor certainly was very concerned and he said, ‘enough is enough,’” Nickerson recalled. “Through his office and my office, we put on a full court press.”