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NORTH TONAWANDA – The North Tonawanda Common Council on Tuesday night awarded a contract for a more than $1.4 million project to extend Meadow Drive, a project that has been nearly 15 years in the planning.

City Engineer Dale W. Marshall said the city has been discussing, lobbying and planning, trying to look for different ways to extend the street, which has become a major thoroughfare through the city’s business district but ends with no connection east of Nash Road.

“Anyone who has driven in North Tonawanda knows it’s tough to get around,” he said.

“This extension will also help to relieve traffic on other side streets, subtracting the flow from streets like Wurlitzer.”

The new project will extend Meadow Drive 3,300 feet east to Erie Avenue.

Marshall told the Council that the city hopes to finish paving the extension in November.

The contract was awarded to DiPizio Construction of Cheektowaga, which bid $1.428 million.

Eighty percent of the project cost will be paid by the federal Transportation Infrastructure Program. The state Department of Transportation will cover three-fourths of the remaining 20 percent, and the city will cover the rest, Marshall said.

The Council also awarded a $406,325 contract to Yarussi Construction of Niagara Falls for Webster Street green infrastructure improvements, funded by a state grant. The project will build “rain gardens” along Webster. The gardens use plants and their root systems to filter salt and dirt from the road that would have normally flow into the Erie Canal.

Mayor Robert G. Orrt told the Council that the project will be done in two parts, with concrete plant boxes installed in the fall and planting in the spring.

In another matter, the Council held a hearing on a plan to offer a $1,000-per-year rebate for 10 years to homeowners who convert apartment buildings back into homes. The Council will vote on the rebate at next week’s meeting.

Council President Richard Andres said the plan is to encourage more single-family homes in the city. “The census showed that 33 percent of our population was renters. Old homes were let go and cut up,” he said, noting a very high transient population. “There are a number of people coming and going, and we are trying to stabilize neighborhoods.”

Landlord Debbie Fishel, who owns three properties and six apartments, said she resented the implication that all landlords in the city are slumlords. “This is my business, and I choose to have it in North Tonawanda,” she said after the meeting. “They should give us some incentive, but they don’t.”

She said there already is a lack of good apartments available for rent.

Andres said the rebate doesn’t penalize anyone who wants to have apartments.

“If you’re a good landlord, there is no problem. It’s your choice,” he said. “This has no negative effect on you.”

The Council also interviewed several people who are interested in filling an opening for at-large alderman, when Nancy Donovan steps down.

The board welcomed Alderman-at-Large Malcolm Needler, who returned Tuesday following hospitalization for a recent heart attack.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com