Tonawanda News

October 13, 2013

sprucing up the waterfront

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The Niagara River Yacht club is attempting to secure $197,200 in grant funding for an overhaul of its prime waterfront property with a blueprint to fix an eroding shoreline, add native wildlife and install a bike path stopover near its clubhouse. 

John Preisler, a board member at the club, said over the last several months he and others in the organization have reached out to the Niagara River Greenway Commission to pursue the idea of resuscitating a 300-foot stretch of its property along the river — with millions of dollars in funding available for projects along the waterway in a deal arranged through the New York Power Authority. 

While critics of the commission say some projects its has funded are too far inland, insiders at the organization have stated that there are renewed efforts to keep its grant offerings closer to area waterways. 

The yacht club’s plan was deemed consistent with that message in September, along with four other projects noted on the Greenway website, that could inch the North Tonawanda non-profit to winning its grant request.  

The club also worked with the Lumber City Development Corporation to assist with the grant application, with the city’s funding arm’s success in recent years winning a string of grants worth millions through competitive processes. It’s also sought consultation with the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers Association. 

LCDC director Richard Tindell was called a key component of the initiative by Preisler, while Tindell himself stating much of the credit and legwork for brining it all together largely falls on yacht club members. 

Preisler, who wrote the application and filed it in July, also applied for a permit with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, before meeting with the commission in September. He reached out to the common council, which gave its approval last week, part of a band of requirements in order to retrieve the funding. 

“We have everything in place now,” he said. “Now that everything has passed we’re going for the funding.” 

The group, made up of 125 members, has been situated at 346 River Road since moving from the current city-owned Lumberjack Patio Grill locale. Preisler said with invasive species riddling the shoreline and the shoreline itself rapidly eroding, the organization sought to find away to improve the property while attempting to think outside the box. 

The project, he noted, would run “along the length of the parking lot,” and introduce native species to ward off erosion rather than the commonly used concrete blocks or boulders. 

“The shoreline is eroding, it’s falling in,” he said. “and it’s infested with poisonous ivy and sumac and just overgrown with weeds and invasive shrubs. Instead of filling it up with rocks we decided to go the natural way. We’re also putting in a rest area for a bike path.” 

The rest area would include the installation of picnic benches on the west end of the property “away from everything else” and “overlooking the river.”

“We’ve done a lot of upkeep on the property since we purchased it five years ago,” he said. “And this will add to it.” 

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