Tonawanda News

May 29, 2013

NT seeking state grants

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Following several successful rounds of applications to the New York State Consolidated Funding grants during the last two years, a competitive process spurred by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and delegated through the state’s Regional Economic Development councils, North Tonawanda will seek at least $1.4 million more for projects around the city. 

Cuomo announced in early May that applications would be accepted from municipalities across the state as early as June 17 for $760 million in competitive grants and tax incentives, said Richard Tindell, director of the Lumber City Development Corporation, the city’s economic development arm. 

The most significant among the city’s requests will be an $850,000 matching grant to complete dredging and dock work for the final two bays at the City Marina, 1000 River Road. Nearly $2 million, some of which was brought in through Niagara River Greenway funds, already has been poured into resuscitating a vacant clubhouse formerly housing the Niagara River Yacht Club as well as the dredging of one bay and the addition of new docks, among other facets.

“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Tindell said. 

The city will also look to extend a bicycle path further down Sweeney Street to Mayors Park at a cost of $240,000, Tindell said. The path currently ends at Payne Avenue from River Road, though Mayor Rob Ortt said his office has been flooded with requests to continue the path more than a mile up the Erie Canal. That figure also would require the city to chip in an equal sum.  

“I’ve received a lot of request over the years to extend it,” Ortt said. “They like the path, they just want it to be even better.”  

One of the oft-talked-about projects among the council during the last several years has been the renovation of Oliver Street, once North Tonawanda’s vibrant commercial center, though much of it now has fallen into blight despite the continued existence of small business along the thoroughfare. 

Tindell said the city will apply for $250,000 to refurbish up to 20 buildings there, though further details were scant during Tuesday evening’s work session, as he and his right-hand man, Michael Zimmerman, work their way through the application process. 

Funding for a public art project, also lacking in detail until the application process is compete, will be sought by the city, which would entail $50,000 in grant money through the New York State Council on the Arts. 

Out of nine projects applied for by the city since the grant process was first announced by Cuomo in July 2011, the LCDC has brought in $1.3 million for four projects including the Remington Tavern, the construction of kayak launching points along the canal, microenterprise efforts in the downtown corridor and the remediation of stormwater runoff along Webster Street. 

Council President Rich Andres said he would also like to see funds come to make the Carnegie Art Center on Goundry Street handicap accessible and to have streetscape work conducted along River Road. 

The projects, submitted for review by the state, are required to show “some sort of community need” and eligibility requirements, Tindell said.

“I think all of these do,” he added.   

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