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The Tonawanda City Council Tuesday took steps to strengthen its connection with the historical Erie Canal by authorizing the mayor to sign an agreement that will bring $1,628,000 in improvements to the city's harbor area.

"The largest expense is in the canal wall and docking," Mayor Alice A. Roth said of the agreement with the New York State Canal Corp.

Most of the money for the project which will repair the canal wall on the city's side and improve the docking facilities along Overlook Park, Long Homestead Park and Long Point Park will come from the state, with the city contributing $36,000 in some minor construction and inspection

Ms. Roth said the project could be completed by next spring, and that a bike trail that will eventually stretch from Lockport to Buffalo's waterfront is part of the design. The project will use $80,000 from the state Environmental Bond act, $300,000 in federal block grant funding, $18,000 in a grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, $80,000 in city block grant funds and $25,000 from the State Legislature. The Canal Corp. will contribute $1,090,000.

In a related matter city officials reacted favorably to but took no action on a proposal to reinstate hydroplane races during the annual Canalfest. Grand Prix America, a corporation specializing in the marketing of hydroplane racing events, has proposed sponsoring the races during the week-long festival.

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