Tonawandas applying for $10M to spark $100M in waterfront development

Jun 20, 2019

The three Tonawandas met Thursday morning for the first major development since they formed their charter to work together on regional trail systems and waterfront development.

Gregory Stevens, Executive Director of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, told WBFO the municipalities are applying for a $10 million downtown revitalization grant, which has never been done jointly before.

"The $10 million is to enhance principally commercial development along waterfront communities in Western New York," Stevens said. "There are six or seven other Erie Canal towns that have been granted these funds in the last four years. It's sort of moving this way from the Capitol District, so we think that the Tonawandas should be next in line and by applying jointly, it creates kind of a unique story about municipal cooperation in Western New York."

Stevens said the $10 million would be used as "seed money" to kick off $100 million of investment along the Niagara River. He said that will make a "visible difference" in the Tonawandas, which are still recovering from their industrial legacy.

"There's quite a bit that's actually in construction in 2019 and most of the balance of it is in 2020, so it's going to be quite a diferent place in pretty short order," he said.

Stevens said the Tonawandas have received two Main Street grants for waterfront development, they just received approval for a New York State Department of Transportation TAP grant that will be combined with Ralph Wilson Foundation and Greenway funds to re-do segments of the Empire State Trail, plus River Road is getting $2.4 million worth of upgrades including bike lanes.

The goal is building the infrastructure that makes the Tonawanda waterfront - as a cohesive whole - attractive to tourists and other recreation seekers.

WBFO's Mike Desmond contributed to this story.