Infrastructure improvements to the North Youngmann Commerce Center are expected to be completed by fall, representing a big step toward readying the Town of Tonawanda-owned site for development.
“We have been trying to get this developed for quite some time now – many years,” James B. Jones, the town engineer, said at the Town Board’s work session Monday afternoon.
Jones and Robert L. Dimmig, executive director of Town of Tonawanda Development Corp., briefed lawmakers about the project, which will be the subject of two public hearings later this month.
The 92 acres targeted for development are on a site historically known as the “Mudflats,” created by the removal of soil used in the construction of the Youngmann Memorial Highway in the 1960s. Municipal waste-burning incinerators once stood there, and although waste generated by nuclear weapons research was detected in that area, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that the low levels didn’t require action.
Creating the North Youngmann Commerce Center has been talked about since the mid-1990s.
Now, an access road will built, extending eastward through the site to a truck turnaround, and will connect East Park Drive and Two Mile Creek Road, via a bridge to be built across Two Mile Creek at the western end. An existing 24-inch water line – which cuts diagonally through the site and runs along its northern border – will be moved in order to increase development opportunities.
“The primary component of the project is to bring the road across Two Mile Creek with a bridge,” Jones said.
An earlier plan to have access from Military Road was ruled out because of the cost of building either a bridge over or a tunnel under railroad tracks, where a grade-level crossing would have been too expensive.
Roughly $2.6 million of the estimated $3 million cost is coming from two programs.
Approximately $2.1 million is money the town was promised from its role in bringing insurance giant GEICO to Amherst. An additional $500,000 is from Empire State Development’s Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund.
“As the money is spent, you get reimbursed from the state,” Town Comptroller Edward D. Mongold said, explaining the latter source.
“The $2.1 million from the GEICO fund already is in the bank. It will be drawn down during construction.”
The town will use separate bonds for paving and drainage work, and the water line project. Those projects are expected to be done by the end of September.
“Shovel-ready” status is attained by meeting a state certification process, according to Dimmig.
The checklist includes, among other things, ensuring that adequate utility services are in place or having plans that show how those services will be provided, according to Empire State Development.
“It’s critical for companies looking for properties,” Dimmig said.
“It says there’s not going to be a long delay” between a company expressing interest in a site and getting the necessary permits to proceed.
Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana had alluded to the pending work at North Youngmann Commerce Center in his State of the Town address in March. Monday, he said: “It’s a great start for this. We have been waiting for a long time.”