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Improvements to Erie Basin Marina will proceed with $1 million state grant

A long-discussed plan to make improvements at Erie Basin Marina, including construction of an expanded boardwalk, is finally moving forward now that funding has been secured.

Public works officials announced Friday that Buffalo has received a $1 million state grant that will pay for construction of an expanded boardwalk, a new overlook platform below the marina's observation tower and other improvements.

The marina's seawall will be reconstructed, restrooms will be upgraded and new dock security gates will be installed.

"Our goal is to see construction start in the spring and be completed within a few months," said city engineer Peter J. Merlo.

The project was initially announced nearly two years ago, shortly after Mayor Byron W. Brown empaneled an advisory group to review ways to enhance the downtown marina and make it a year-round destination. The city hired CRA Infrastructure & Engineering to design the marina improvements. But the project had a tough time moving beyond the drawing board.

"We could only move when funding became available," Merlo said. "This money will now allow us to implement the plan."

The grant is being provided by the Empire State Development Corp. through the Upstate City-by-City Funding initiative. When the Common Council meets on Tuesday, public works officials will ask lawmakers to officially accept the grant.

The most noticeable improvement will involve construction of a 300-foot-long concrete boardwalk that will link the area around the observation tower with Erie Basin Marina Beach. Merlo said the current boardwalk is much shorter and made of treated wood.

Meanwhile, an improved observation platform will aim to capitalize on the marina's picturesque waterfront vistas. The platform will feature informational postings about the waterfront.

"We get a lot of visitors there, and people want to know what they're looking at," said Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak.

Some improvements will be made to improve the appearance of the marina's entrance, he added.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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