NORTH TONAWANDA – The city-owned Gratwick Riverside Marina, which sat vacant and dilapidated for six years, has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation over the past three years. Tuesday, the Common Council approved a plan to seek an additional $250,000 in state funding, which would be matched by the city to complete the final phase.
The first phase of the project, a two-year $1.78 million project funded by federal grants, Niagara River Greenway and city and private sources, restored the former Niagara River Yacht Club into a seasonal restaurant called Lumberjack’s Patio Grill. The first phase also involved dredging and cleaning up the area around the marina. This summer the dredging of the final slips in the marina continues as part of the second phase. The project also includes $255,369 to convert the existing garage at the marina into handicapped-accessible restrooms and to complete transient docking.
The new funding, sought from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Environmental Protection Fund, will be used for the finishing aesthetic touches, such as lighting and promenades to improve the property. Michael Zimmerman, planning and development coordinator for Lumber City Development Corp., said, “The rest of the property is in bad shape. If we are going to bring in boaters, we need sidewalks, we need lighting, we need landscaping. All the kinds of things that make it an attractive piece of property.”
“If we are successful this will be one of the last pieces for Gratwick Marina,” said Mayor Robert G. Ortt.
Ortt said the city has improved the economic viability of the property to both the waterfront and the city in a relatively short time.
“The property sat there for a long time without any vision or plan, and today there’s a public-private partnership with the city and Lumberjack’s,” he said. “And I think the best things are still to come. As you finish the dredging, you can allow boats and jet skis in there and allow boaters in there to visit the restaurant and the park. I think the new slips go in, you will see that marina go to a whole other level.”
The city also will seek an additional $27,500 from the New York State Canal Corp. for interpretive signs in the Gateway Harbor area of the Erie Canal. This grant, if approved, also would be matched by the city.
The new signs will offer information about the Erie Canal, including its history and its impact on the downtown area.
The grant applications are being submitted as part of the state’s consolidated funding application and are awarded before the end of this year.
“The state has been very good to us in the past and we are really hopeful that in this round we are going to be successful as well,” Zimmerman said.
The Common Council also approved a plan to offer retirement incentives for eligible employees with 20 years of service who are under CSEA- or AFSCME-negotiated contracts and retire between June 1 and July 31.
Under the proposal, an employee will have the option of receiving an incentive of $10,000 in two installments of $5,000, paid in 2015 and 2016; or a one-time payment of $7,500; or retire with the medical insurance benefits in the succeeding union-negotiated contract that applies to that employee.