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Legislature to vote on first list of stimulus projects

The Niagara County Legislature is to vote Tuesday on the first installment of its economic stimulus project requests.

Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, said the projects could be started within 90 days if funding were received.

He said the Empire State Development Corp. asked for such a list of projects for the state to consider before it begins parceling out the first 50 percent of its block grant under the federal stimulus bill.

"It's our understanding that is extremely time-sensitive," Updegrove said.

At its next meeting March 3, the Legislature is expected to vote on a second list of project requests, those that could be "shovel ready" within six months.

The list on Tuesday's agenda includes 31 projects with a total estimated price tag of $41.1 million.

The largest project on the list is the proposed new Niagara Falls train station at $16.5 million.

Also on the list is the proposed makeover of the Transit North corridor in Lockport and Pendleton, priced at $4.1 million, including relocation of a Town of Lockport water main under South Transit Road, some beautification projects and wireless Internet servers.

The lineup also includes $2.1 million for expanded roads, water and sewer lines and electrical service in the town's industrial park.

The package includes $3.4 million to complete the Cedar Street bridge replacement in Royalton; more than $2 million for the Drum Road and Seaman Road bridges in Hartland; and $1.78 million to repave Wheatfield-Pendleton Town Line Road.

Other seven-figure items include $1.3 million to repave Mapleton Road in Pendleton; $1.2 million for the Ewings Road Bridge in Newfane; and $1 million to repave Nash Road in Wheatfield.

Another $1 million request would pay for roads and electrical service at the Buffalo Bolt Business Park in North Tonawanda.

Also on Tuesday's agenda is a measure by Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, to seek proposals from lobbying firms to represent the county in Albany and Washington to improve the chance of its projects being funded. Kimble would pay the cost from the county's share of Seneca Niagara Casino profits.

"I want to make sure we get our fair share," Kimble said. "Niagara County has always been caught in the cracks. Erie County gets everything and Niagara County is the stepchild of Erie County. Erie County is not Western New York."

Updegrove said of Kimble's proposal, "It sounds like a good idea." He said the resolution probably would be referred to committee, however.


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