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BUSINESS PARK ENVISIONED FOR LONG-VACANT SITE

A proposed business development could transform a long-overlooked vacant site in the Town of Tonawanda to a potentially bustling business park, and its first tenant could employ more than 120 people, a developer told the Town Board on Monday. However, the town would need to build an access road to accommodate the project.

Tom Montante of Broad Elm Management owns 100 of the 300 acres of a barren parcel on River Road and is proposing to convert it into Niagara River International Business Park. He said the site has great potential because of its proximity to the river, highways, its greenery and Empire Zone designation.

At the rear of the land, the company wants to build a 150,000-square-foot distribution center and is in the process of negotiating with a firm that will occupy the building and offer more than 120 jobs.

The company also is talking to potential tenants of an office building that would be built on the front of the land and is the second part of the proposal. The site also could include a warehouse and light assembly businesses.

The project calls for an access road to connect River Road to the distribution center, which will be constructed 3,500 feet away from River Road. The town would bond the construction of the road, but it will be repaid by the developer.

A similar agreement was made for the new access road for the Colvin Woods Business Park. And a special district would be established for water, sewer and storm drainage. Montante said a firm is currently working on the road design.

He said the distribution center has to be completed by November 2005.

Robert Morris, the town's technical director, said the access road will be researched and a resolution will be drafted in 30 to 45 days to aid in expediting the process and meeting the project's deadline.

Broad Elm also is looking to buy an adjacent 150 acres from Ashland Oil Refinery for further development.

Supervisor Ronald H. Moline said the area has been "off the radar screen for many years. It's great to see it."

Morris, who has been a town employee for 33 years, said there has been talk of someday using the location since the beginning of his tenure with the town.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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