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Town of Tonawanda lawmakers approve selling part of road

The sale of a portion of Fire Tower Drive to an adjacent manufacturer was approved Monday by the Tonawanda Town Board, opening the door to an expansion.

Unifrax has plans to connect its 185,450-square-foot main facility with its 40,595-square-foot warehouse by building a 40,230-square-foot addition on what is, currently, a town-owned turnaround road.

“They’re moving their sewer line,” said Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. “They’re moving their water lines. But they need the turnaround from us to have this expansion.”

Unifrax makes specialty fiber products used in high-temperature industrial, automotive and fire protection applications. Unifrax announced in April its plans to spend about $116 million to acquire a 29 percent ownership stake in a Chinese company.

“They are the biggest user of water in the town by far, and now they’re going to become even bigger,” said Councilman Joe Emminger.

Unifrax will pay the town $25,000 for the slightly more than 0.8 acres of land. The turnaround would be reconstructed on the shortened road. Construction should not affect any other businesses on Fire Tower Road because the turnaround is surrounded by only Unifrax property, Bargnesi said.

“We’ve come up with a plan that I think everybody’s happy with,” said Bargnesi, who noted construction is expected to begin this summer.

Unifrax is majority-owned by affiliates of New York City-based American Securities LLC. Worldwide, Unifrax has 2,200 employees and 28 manufacturing facilities. About 395 of those employees are in Western New York, at Unifrax’s corporate headquarters and its manufacturing facilities in Tonawanda and Sanborn.