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NORTH TONAWANDA – After decades of planning and legal wrangling, the long-awaited Meadow Drive extension opened on Tuesday, linking Erie Avenue to the Mid City business district at Meadow Drive and Payne Avenue.

Mayor Robert G. Ortt was joined at the ribbon-cutting by federal and state officials who helped provide more than $1 million dollars in funding for the project. Also on hand were local officials credited with bringing the project to its conclusion.

State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, weho began his political career in North Tonawanda, and told those gathered for the ribbon-cutting that plans for the extension go back more than 35 years.

“I remember going to meetings back in City Hall talking about the extension in 1977 and here we are decades later actually opening the road up. This was a real challenge for the city,” said Maziarz. “This is going to open up the east-west corridor for the City of North Tonawanda.”

“This project has been talked about for many years. In 2006 North Tonawanda got $1.8 million in federal funding, from then Congressman Brian Reynolds. It took several years working across many different obstacles, some unforseen and some unneccesary, dealing with state and federal governments and with CSX [Railroad.],” Ortt said.

The mayor also praised City Engineer Dale Marshall and City Attorney Shawn P. Nickerson, who worked with his office to make the road a reality.

“Without those federal funds there is no way this would have happened,” Ortt said. “It connects our mid-city business corridor with Erie Avenue and our burgeoning business district near Walmart and Niagara Falls Boulevard.”

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, also praised Reynolds for ensuring the federal dollars were not lost as the project stalled.

Niagara County Legislator and former Common Council President Richard Andes said the new extension will lead to the growth of business on Erie Avenue and in North Tonawanda.

Work on the project was done by DiPizio Construction and Parsons Brinckerhoff was the design engineers.

In another issue involving Meadow Drive, the Common Council received a proposal from the Wattengal Funeral Home, 533 Meadow Drive, to allow the business to purchase a lot owned by the city to expand a parking lot. The land to the rear of the funeral home is adjacent to the North Tonawanda Library. The North Tonawanda Library board officials told the city they favor the sale as long as there is no connecting road to the library and there is some type of barrier or shield between the eastern edge of the parking lot and homes on Nash Road.

The parcel is valued at $8,400, according to City Clerk/Treasurer Scott Kiedrowski. He said neighbors in the area have been contacted for their input. Action on the issue will be taken at a future Common Council meeting.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com