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City of Tonawanda to reveal plan to improve its waterfront

After conducting an 18-month waterfront revitalization study, the City of Tonawanda will unveil Tuesday a plan to improve its waterfront with more docks, more green space and greater access for residents.

Consultants from Clark Patterson Lee will provide the plan to the public and the City Council from 6 to 8 p.m. in City Hall, 200 Niagara St.

Some proposals that will be included are closing Young Street, between Delaware and Main streets, to increase green space; turning a parking lot behind city hall into park land to extend Niawanda Park and add a kayak launch there; and increasing the number of public docks.

"I've stressed over the past 18 months that this really isn't my plan or my vision. This is the residents, their vision for what they would like waterfront to look like over the next 10 to 20 years," said City of Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis.

The Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan is envisioned as a 10- to 20-year community planning tool. The last update of the LWRP was in 1991. The LWRP is designed to provide guidance on future policies, projects and actions along the city's abundant waterfront, which includes the Niagara River, Two-Mile Creek, Erie Canal and Ellicott Creek.

Residents were asked for ideas at special meetings or during community events, such as Canal Fest and waterfront walks, and also at water bikes and canoe rental sites, as part of the 18-month study.

After Tuesday's meeting, the City Council will have two months to discuss the plan and there will be a final public hearing before it is forwarded to the state for approval.

"Once we get the state's approval it becomes a living, breathing document," said Davis of the LWRP. "I have removed myself and my desires out of the equation because this is really a public generated plan based on the feedback that Clark Patterson Lee received over the last 18 months."

Davis said the ideas touted by the public are more likely to receive state and federal funding and the city has already moved forward to apply and receive funds based on residents' input.

Improving city docks was identified as a priority during public hearings, and the city obtained a $487,000 grant from the Department of State to do that. Davis announced the award in December. He said the state grant will cover half of the costs. City officials are looking for additional funding to close the gap.

The grant will help pay for a new ADA compliant dock with slips for 14 boats near the pavilion in Niawanda Park, enhancements to a fishing dock and police boat dock behind City Hall, and extending a floating watersports dock at the canal and creek, near the intermodal hub.

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