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Pataki made several inroads

Gov. George E. Pataki leaves office having fallen far short on his vow to turn downtown Niagara Falls into a success on the level he had with Times Square. But the governor's staff recently provided The Buffalo News with information on the financial support the Pataki administration has provided to a city that has bled population and longs for a resurgence.

State support of Falls projects totals about $95 million during the past five years, Pataki officials said, plus an additional $10 million in casino revenues to support USA Niagara Development projects.

The numbers include:

*$44 million in improvements to Niagara Falls State Park.

*$18.8 million for the Conference Center Niagara Falls, which has hosted about 300 events this year.

*$10 million for the proposed Niagara Experience Center.

*$6 million to support the recently opened Crowne Plaza, a $23 million hotel renovation project.

*$5 million in construction funding for the Robert Moses Parkway South project.

*$3.3 million for the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, and DeVeaux Woods and Whirlpool state parks.

*$3.2 million for the reconfiguration and streetscape program on Rainbow Boulevard North and South, including $500,000 to incorporate elements consistent with the joint USA Niagara/City of Niagara Falls $3.5 million Third Street reconstruction project.

*$3.1 million to support a new Old Falls Street streetscape.

*$2.7 million for a new fleet of natural gas powered trolley vehicles in downtown Niagara Falls.

*$1 million in pedestrian access improvements on all state-owned routes downtown.

*$500,000 for the restoration of the former Niagara Falls High School into the Niagara Falls Arts and Cultural Center.

*$400,000 in interest-free financing for the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Heart Center and emergency department.

*$100,000 to help in the successful fight to save Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from being closed as part of the 2005 base realignment process.

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