Secretary makes appearance to see state investments first hand
The city was awarded a BOA grant in the amount of approximately $400,000 to be put toward the revitalization process.
Secretary of State Ceasar Perales, joined Senator George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Cerreto as he stopped by North Tonawanda to see for himself where the states investments were going. He was joined by North Tonawanda officials Mayor Rob Ortt, Council President Rich Andres and Councilman Russ Rizzo as they discussed the final step in phase three of future Brownfields projects and discussed strategic sights specified in the plans.
“This is a series of grants that have been awarded to North Tonawanda, because they have put up some very exciting plans,” said Perales.
He went on to say, the people he encounters from Western New York often tell him the BOA funding should be spent in cities like North Tonawanda.
“This is the place where we ought to be investing our Brownfield Opportunity funding. This is the place where you’re going to find under utilized places. Some people may think it [the places] may have been contaminated and they may need to be cleaned up. But, if we do it - and do it right - we can create real economic opportunity for communities that need economic opportunities,” said Perales.
The program is supported by the state legislature and is one of the most important programs managed by the Department of State. Perales believes capitalizing on a location of the state where there is opportunity for economic development and a place that is under utilized is beneficial for the state.
Phase three of the funding for the BOA Program will include a study of river road, including recommendations for ways to improve vehicle and pedestrian traffic that will increase access to the waterfront; a basic environmental impact statement; and finally the assessment will act as a guide for future development of the waterfront.
These recommendations will allow for new, updated zoning regulations that will help the city align its zoning with developmental priorities. This study will be conducted in order to make future plans for revitalization within the city and guide future developers along the way.
Strategic sights listed during the recent press conference included Buffalo Bolt Business Park, Gratwick-Riverside Park Marina and the River Road Corridor. The state hopes to utilize the space on River Road and connect the waterfront and downtown with Tonawanda Island in order to change what is currently acting as a barrier between the three locations.
“Gratwick Park is a unique opportunity for waterfront development in North Tonawanda,” said Ortt. “The marina restaurant can help create a waterfront destination for recreation and business. River Road corridor has the potential to be some of the most beautiful waterfront land in Western New York and Tonawanda Island is probably the most unique development opportunity in Western New York, maybe even in New York State,” said Ortt.
Ortt added, “This is the final step before we talk about shovels going into the ground.”
Maziarz, a North Tonawanda native who was thrilled the state chose North Tonawanda as the city to invest in, added “There are multiple areas here where we can use this money to redevelop.”
Perales believes the city is a great place for the state to begin it’s investments and hopes to see the final results.
“This is an opportunity for private investors to see an opportunity in a place like Tonawanda Island and North Tonawanda. An opportunity for investors to come in and make an investment. The government can’t do it all. But, I think the responsibility of the government is to make places attractive for private investors and that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what I think will happen here. If we do this right, people are going to want to invest,” said Perales.