A waterfront of recreation, public access for boaters and green space was envisioned Monday in a consultant’s final report to the Town of Tonawanda board.
The town’s 6-mile-long western portion along the Niagara River is now mostly heavy industry and vacant land.
However, Brian Kulpa and Justin Steinbach of the architecture design firm Clark Patterson Lee told the board during its afternoon work session that improvement starts with an overhaul of the area’s overlapping zoning codes, which Kulpa called “cumbersome.”
“It’s not creating the types of opportunities the town is looking for,” Kulpa said.
The report suggests utilizing four types of land use: industrial, commercial residential and a new “waterfront priority zone” to encourage water access.
The report also has specific ideas for parcels such as the Cherry Farm, a remediated former landfill south of the South Grand Island bridges, and Riverfront Park.
Cherry Farm, for example, would be ripe for light recreational use such as an amphitheater for outdoor performances. The consultants acknowledged the need for a plan to contain contaminants still present on the site.
With the report in hand, the town is ready to begin seeking funding from state and federal sources, the two design consultants said.
Planning Board Chairman Kenneth J. Swanekamp said the consultants have attended numerous Planning Board meetings over the last year.
“They’ve gotten a lot of feedback and we think what we’ve got now is a very good document that’s going to help guide the development,” Swanekamp told the board. “We’ll incorporate the entire document as part of the comprehensive plan and then move forward with some of the zoning changes that are recommended to try to actually take some of these projects and put them into the ground.”
The report was commissioned as part of a state Environmental Protection Fund grant awarded in 2010 to Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
The report complements other studies of the area under way, including the town’s involvement in the state Department of State’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program, said Town Engineer Jim Jones.
A community meeting will be held in April seeking input and feedback on the plan, which will be available for public viewing today on the town’s website www.tonawanda.ny.us, he said.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The board approved a new sewer capital improvement fee to help pay for state-mandated improvements to its aging sewer system. Quarterly rates will be $6.75 for 2014 and $7.35 for 2015.
• The board issued a call for bids for a new road-milling machine that would replace the machine purchased in 2012. The new machine will be 7 feet, 2 inches wide, while the current model is 4 feet wide. Crews will be able to grind up and repave twice the amount of road daily, Highway Superintendent William E. Swanson said.