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North Tonawanda mayor sets agenda

NORTH TONAWANDA – In 2016, the city will focus on continuing to move forward economically, culturally and financially, Mayor Arthur G. Pappas said Tuesday in his State of the City address.

It was Pappas’ second year delivering the address after being appointed mayor in 2015, but this is the beginning of his first full term, and he thanked the residents for their support.

He said that the city is in very good shape, but that to continue to move forward, “North Tonawanda must invest in itself. No part of the city can be neglected.”

Pappas said that last year the city spent more than $1 million to resurface various streets and that another $1 million will be used in 2016. He said the Erie Canal Bike Path extension will be completed this year, running from Sweeney Street to Mayor’s Park.

In addition, two of the three kayak docks in the city were completed, at the Botanical Gardens and Service Drive, and the last one at Gateway Harbor Park will be completed this year. Another major project, the $2.4 million Frederick B. Durkee Bridge, which links the city to Tonawanda Island, was completed in 2015. This year the city will spend more than $1 million on infrastructure repairs at the wastewater-treatment plant.

“We are in good financial shape right now, and my goal is to keep expenses in line while minimizing the impact on taxpayers,” Pappas said.

The Common Council on Tuesday approved a $2.65 million capital improvement bond for a number of city projects.

The list includes: $300,000 to construct or reconstruct sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and drainage and grading, which will be added to state highway roads funding; $50,000 to acquire recycling totes for residents; $190,000 to buy a sanitation truck; $986,000 to make improvements at Gratwick-Riverside Park, which includes removal and reconstruction of docks, driveways and sidewalks, installation of lighting and utilities, and landscaping and site work. The goal is to complete the entire marina upgrade so the city can recoup money through slip rentals.

Also, $150,000 for a sewer separation and sanitary overflow project; $135,000 for flame-resistant firefighting gear; $400,000 for reconstruction and replacement of the roof, as well as related insulation and improvements at the city’s Nash/Deerfield Fire Station; $75,000 for three auxiliary police replacement vehicles; $75,000 for a multi-use, heavy-duty mower and $51,000 for a lawn mower for Deerwood Golf Course; and $600,000 for improvements to the wastewater-treatment plant conveyors and related improvements.

The Council approved the appointment of Luke A. Brown as assistant city attorney, a part-time position with a salary of $42,000 per year.

The Council also heard from a 17-year-old North Tonawanda High School student, who said he wanted the city to do more to fight drug abuse issues. “Drug use and low-level crimes are off the charts,” he said.

After the meeting, he said, “I am a former addict and now it just kills me to see everyone else following down that road. He said he has seen students as young as 13 and 14 dealing prescription pills in his school.

Third Ward Alderman Eric M. Zadzilka said he is a member of the Coalition Health Alliance of North Tonawanda, or CHANT, which was formed last year to address drug abuse among students. He encouraged the teenager to be involved as a student partner.