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LOCKPORT – The Common Council voted Wednesday to authorize borrowing up to $1.35 million this year for 17 purchases and projects, including the local match for a federal grant earmarked to restore the 19th century Erie Canal locks to working condition.

The State Canal Corp. is planning to award a contract in June, about a month later than anticipated, for restoration of Locks 69 and 70, two of the Flight of Five locks that were constructed when the canal opened in 1825. The city views this as a major potential tourist attraction.

The city share of the project is $380,000, which is the largest of the 17 items on the borrowing list.

City Treasurer Michael E. White said just because the borrowing is authorized doesn’t mean it will be carried out right away.

For example, last year, the Council authorized White to borrow as much as $8.6 million. He borrowed just under $5 million on a one-year note. Wednesday’s authorization added to that figure.

White said most of last year’s $3.25 million in authorized but unborrowed money was earmarked for the demolition of the Main Street parking ramp, for which bids aren’t due until April 5.

White said that since the Federal Reserve has said it intends to keep interest rates at current low levels until at least 2015, the city probably will issue another one-year note and keep renewing it as needed.

Because of the city’s strong credit rating, last year’s $5 million borrowing cost 0.67 percent, or $12,234, in interest, White said.

Other items in the latest borrowing authorization include replacement of a sewer line on Lock Street and three new pickup trucks.

Also, a dump truck, bucket truck, skid steer, chipper, tractor cab and air compressor; $475,000 worth of reconstruction of equipment at the wastewater treatment plant; $15,000 to make City Hall restrooms handicapped accessible; construction of traffic islands on Chestnut Street in front of the planned new ice arena; and $15,000 to repair the foundations of City Hall’s three flagpoles.

In other matters, the Council granted two special use permits.

Imagine Community Gardens won the go-ahead to open a garden on three vacant lots on Washburn Street. The city sold the not-for-profit group one of the lots for $1.900.

Grand Street Properties won a permit to open a spa and alternative healing business in the back corner of a machine shop building at 193 Grand.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com