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Work on business park will proceed, though key prospect opts for Buffalo site

Work will begin next month to build an access road and sewer system for the Town of Tonawanda's latest business park development, although the park's major prospective tenant has taken up residency in Buffalo.

The Town Board recently approved $1.6 million for the road and $200,000 for water and sewer infrastructure for Riverview Commerce Park on River Road.

The board's move culminated an accelerated effort that began in November, when developer Tom Montante of Broad Elm Management proposed creating the business park and possibly attracting a company that could employ more than 120 people. The developer had planned a 150,000-square-foot distribution center, and the site needed an access road immediately because the company wanted to move in by the end of the year.

But town and Broad Elm officials said the process stalled as the town went through various legal procedures to prepare the site, such as the State Environmental Quality Review, and the Army Corps of Engineers worked to remove pollutants from Rattlesnake Creek.

Meanwhile, the company, Robinson Knife, decided on the old Buffalo China plant on Bailey Avenue as its location.

Montante said "it's nobody fault" that the negotiations fell through. He said that the selected site in Buffalo fits the company's need and that the 3,500-foot road across Rattlesnake Creek will attract other businesses.

"The road construction is going to spur more interest," Montante said. In addition, the site is ideal with its Empire Zone designation and proximity to highways. "It's a really beautiful piece of property."

Montante said two companies are expressing interest in the business park.

Councilman Raymond E. Sinclair said the town has been cooperative in speeding up the process.

"We are just trying to be user-friendly by helping to get this going," said Sinclair, chairman of the town's Economic Development Committee. "We've got to get the road done before he can get building and get businesses in there."

By spring, Sinclair said, the site will be ready for tenants.
The access road will connect River Road to the site's 300 acres, 100 of which are owned by Broad Elm. The town will bond the construction of the road and the sewer system, but it will be repaid by the developer.

Montante said the long-term plan calls for an office building that would be built on the front of the land, and the site could also include a warehouse and light assembly businesses.


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