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TOWN OF NIAGARA – A major step toward expediting the expansion of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara mall was taken by the Town Board Tuesday.

During a special meeting , the board awarded a $583,000 sewer contract to Mark Cerrone Inc. of Niagara Falls, to install a pump station that is needed to handle sewage flow from the additional stores.

The $71 million expansion, which is already underway, is designed to add 170,000 square feet and an estimated 50 stores to the Military Road shopping mecca.

The expansion is seen as necessary for the owners, Macerich, of Santa Monica, Calif., to compete with malls in Canada for the business with shoppers from north of the border.

Councilman Danny Sklarski called the contract award “a big piece of the puzzle.”

According to Deputy Supervisor Sylvia Virtuoso, the work would be funded by the town through bonding but Macerich would pay Cerrone an additional $15,000 if the job is completed by September. The target date for the grand opening of the expansion is Oct. 16, according to the discussion.

Town Attorney Michael Risman said the special board meeting was needed to facilitate the time-table for completion of the expansion work. Without the pump station, the mall would not be able to expand, he said.

The pump station, which is to be located near the Elks Lodge on Factory Outlet Boulevard, would send the sewage toward Niagara Falls Boulevard for treatment at the Niagara Falls treatment plant.

Recently though, the town has been working to terminate its association with the city plant to go with the Niagara County Sewer District.

The board met at a special meeting last week to discuss the project.

The board will next meet at a work session on July 10, with the regular monthly meeting scheduled for July 15.