$2.5 Million Grant on its Way to NT for Downtown Development

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

Thanks to a $2.5 million “Smart Growth” grant from Albany some big changes will be coming to North Tonawanda.

It could include bike lanes on Oliver Street and an expansion to the Charles Fleishman Park. On Saturday residents had a chance to meet with landscape architect Joy Kuebler to give their input on the project.

Kuebler, who was hired by the City, was at the farmers market over the weekend meeting with people to talk more about the project.

“So we have been looking at how do we translate designs into dollars,” said Kuebler. “We have been doing some concept designs, but what we want to know today are ideas from the community. Ultimately, residents will then pick the top priorities for the money.”

 

 

The hope is that the projects will give North Tonawanda a ‘big city’ feel while keeping a home town spirit.

“I am excited that more money is being put into the downtown area,” said Matt Bille, North Tonawanda Resident. “Hopefully we can continue to improve on the progress of Gateway, with the Webster Street projects and continue to make people aware of how to get there, just capitalizing on the development so far.”

 

 

Helping to facilitate new growth in the area and breathe? life into the established businesses the area already is something on the minds of many.

“I think people just do not understand how much tourism is in the area and the more that we can bring to the area the better,” said Bille. “I guess my concern is that we need to do more to bring business to Oliver Street. There is a lot of empty store fronts and getting more money so that we can get grant money in for these local businesses is super important. If we take a look at what is happening on Niagara Street, I do not think it is too far-fetched that some of those changes could come here for small businesses.”

 

 

On a board there was a list of seven possible project and with stickers residents got a chance to rate which project they would like to see happen.

“The $2.5 million is something that we are really excited about and to make our City walkable,” said Donna Braun, 2nd Ward Alderman. “That is the whole purpose of this. We need the community’s input on this and I cannot wait to see it get going.”

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