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State gives $900,000 for Roycroft restoration

Two state grants have given East Aurora's Roycroft Campus restoration a $900,000 building block.

A newly announced $755,000 transportation enhancement grant includes $600,000 for landscaping and beautification of the complex at Main and South Grove streets. The balance will go to the village for similar purposes.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation chipped in another $300,000 for building acquisition and improvements undertaken by the Roycroft Campus Corp.

The grants lifted to more than $2.5 million the amount raised by the nonprofit group over the past year to buy and renovate the buildings where Roycrofters made Arts & Crafts furniture a century ago. The corporation plans to create a heritage tourism destination where contemporary artisans will turn out items in the same style.

"We're on the road to a great project," the organization's president, Douglas G. Swift, said at a news conference Thursday in the Copper Shop, where work is under way to turn the former finishing room into an artisans gallery. "The state money won't just help us but our neighbors."

Nearby, the first steps were being taken to rebuild the old Power House from the ruins of a 1997 fire. That component of the recently completed campus master plan is expected to cost $2 million to $3 million.

Though the state funds will be used mainly for infrastructure improvements that are hard to see and therefore "hard to get people excited about," they demonstrate that the project is on course and should spark more private investment, Swift said.

The grants certainly excited East Aurora Mayor David J. Pietro, who called the Roycroft project "the greatest economic driver in our village right now."

"It only takes one eye to see all the great improvements being made here," Pietro said.

Swift and Pietro thanked State Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, for securing the state aid. Volker in turn credited Gov. George E. Pataki, who, he said, "has been extremely good to East Aurora."

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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