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CONGRESS OKS $1.7 MILLION MORE FOR CITY WATERFRONT

Congress gave its final approval Wednesday to a spending bill that contains $2 million for local water projects, including the final piece of funding for the redevelopment of Buffalo's Inner Harbor.

About $1.775 million in new federal money will go to the $27.1 million Inner Harbor project, which will extend the waterfront to the foot of Main Street. Another $14.35 million in federal funds already had been set aside for the project.

"By creating additional shoreline, the city will be able to maximize the number of active commercial boats and develop water-related activities," said Rep. Jack F. Quinn, R-Hamburg, who worked to include the local funding in the spending bill and to obtain the earlier federal funding. "This will increase the potential for private development."

The new federal money was included in a $21 billion energy and water development spending bill that passed the House by a 404-17 vote.

Since the Senate already had approved the bill, it now goes to the White House for President Clinton's signature.

Thomas D. Blanchard Jr., research and planning director for Empire State Development Corp., said the Inner Harbor project was moving ahead even without the latest chunk of federal money. Engineering and design work will take two years.

The energy and water bill also includes $350,000 to begin developing ice retention sites along Buffalo Creek and Cazenovia Creek. That project aims to prevent ice jams and flooding in Cheektowaga, West Seneca and Eden.

The bill also sets aside $100,000 to studying access improvements at the Union Ship Canal in Lackawanna.

Beyond the Buffalo area, the bill includes $2 million for the federal government's extensive Erie Canal redevelopment project and another $2 million to continue efforts to control the zebra mussel, a tiny mollusk that has been interfering with Great Lakes waterways.

Additional funding for those projects could be included in future spending bills. Under the two-step congressional budgeting process, Congress initially approved those projects in a four-year bill passed last year, but exactly how much to spend on each project will be decided each year.

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