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PLAN RETAINS RIVERFRONT USE BY INDUSTRY

New marinas would be built and parkland provided, but the Town of Tonawanda riverfront would continue to be a major industrial area under a new master plan unveiled Tuesday by two private consultants.

The plan, which covers about 1,100 acres of privately owned land near the south Grand Island Bridge, recommends a series of parks and boat launches along with developing an emphasis on light industry.

Noting the proximity of Dunlop Tire, Ashland Oil and other large manufacturers, the town's consultants concluded that portions of the town's waterfront are well-suited for industry. They suggest that such industrial uses be restricted to sites away from the Niagara River shoreline.

Closer to the water, the consultants recommended a second extension of Isle View Park and the development of a new park at the Cherry Farm site south of the bridge. They also recommend new marinas with a total of 800 to 1,200 boat slips by the year 2000.

Developed by Sasaski Associates of Watertown, Mass., and Halcyon Ltd. of Washington, D.C., the plan was unveiled at an afternoon Town Board work session and later at a public meeting.

Tonawanda officials acknowledged that heavy industry is not the best use for the town's waterfront. But short of asking its major employers to move, they said the town had to come up with a plan meeting the needs of all interests.

The plan covers four major land areas along River Road: the Ashland Oil refinery, a 300-acre site near the city-town line, the former Roblin Steel site and the Cherry Farm site owned by Niagara Mohawk.

"If we're going to develop our waterfront over the next 10 years, there's going to have to be a peaceful co-existence between industry and other users," said Carl Calabrese, a Town Board member who worked closely with the consultants.

The plan also stresses the need to identify and clean up hazardous waste along the riverfront. The consultants said only a portion of the area's possible waste sites have been evaluated by the state.

Town officials downplayed the problem of hazardous waste sites.

"I think we'll really be watching," Sandy Carrubba of the Strawberry Island Preservation Group said at Tuesday night's public meeting.

George Melrose, the town's representative on the newly formed Horizons Waterfront Commission, which is developing a regional plan for 90 miles of Erie County waterfront, said the Town Board is willing to give Horizons time to review and incorporate the town's plan as part of its master plan. Horizons is selecting its own consultant. A decision is due this summer.

News Staff Reporter Barbara O'Brien contributed to this story.

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