Park Reopens with Enhancements for Boaters and Pedestrians
Upgrades Funded by Smart Growth Community Fund as part of Buffalo Billion II Initiative
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of improvements at Gateway Harbor Park in North Tonawanda. The project - with funding from the Smart Growth Community Fund, a Buffalo Billion II initiative - provides enhancements for both boaters and pedestrian park users, including the construction of a modern, ADA-compliant harbor master facility; extended dockage with upgraded utility hookups; improved lighting; and picnic facilities. The improvements at this municipal urban park help to expand waterfront amenities in this already very well-visited location by residents and tourists in North Tonawanda, further creating a sense of place and attractive community where people want to live and work. See photos of the enhancements here.
"The Smart Growth Community Fund uses targeted, strategic investments to deliver on improvements for neighborhoods throughout Western New York," said Governor Cuomo. "This investment will give the community a park with modern, accessible facilities and more attractive features, which will help bolster tourism for North Tonawanda and the region as a whole."
"With the support of targeted state resources as part of the Smart Growth Community Fund, places like North Tonawanda are transforming public infrastructure and investing in the future," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement. "The new Gateway Harbor Park will improve the waterfront experience for North Tonawanda residents, and help to bring more visitors to one of our state's unique canal communities."
In October 2017, the City of North Tonawanda, the second-largest municipality in Niagara County, was awarded up to $2.5 million in funding through the Governor's Buffalo Billion Phase II initiative in an effort to encourage North Tonawanda to proceed with planned community and economic development initiatives that advance smart growth. The City leveraged the state's investment to expand the number and scope of projects being completed in its downtown, which also include streetscape and pedestrian enhancements, pocket park improvements, signage and visual improvements at downtown entry points, pedestrian improvements at four crossings located on River Road, green infrastructure improvements to Main Street and funding to support the renovation of the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Smart Growth Community Fund is improving communities in Western New York through enhancing the beauty and functionality of public spaces in downtowns across the region."
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Jeff Belt said, "North Tonawanda's downtown is primed for new, denser urban development that will promote walkability and sustainable economic growth. Projects like Gateway Harbor encourage this progress in the community."
The project also received $700,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and $100,000 from the Canalway Grant Program as part of the Governor's Regional Economic Development Council awards in 2017.
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Like many communities, the Erie Canal is the heart of Tonawanda, and it remains an important economic engine for the region. The Department of State is proud to have contributed funding for new amenities at Gateway Harbor Park which will reinforce Tonawanda's reputation as a destination along the Erie Canal. This project will increase public access and enjoyment of the waterfront, spur private investment and grow the economy in the community."
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, "North Tonawanda has always enthusiastically embraced its link to the Erie Canal. With these new amenities, Gateway Harbor Park will now have more waterfront access and be an attractive destination for boaters to stop and experience what this charming community and park have to offer."
In 2017 and 2018 in Western New York, applicants to the statewide DRI competition not selected as the regional winner were automatically eligible for funding through the Smart Growth Community Fund, a $20 million initiative to fund ready projects in municipalities that revive traditional main streets, preserve historic buildings and foster mixed-use private investment, and encourage walkability and increase access to waterfronts and green space. Funding has been awarded to eight Western New York communities, each receiving up to $2.5 million. Funding awards were recommended and approved by the WNYREDC. Projects selected within each community are shovel-ready and can be completed within one to two years.
North Tonawanda's downtown, at the convergence of the Erie Canal, Tonawanda Creek and the Niagara River, has been the focus of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the Brownfield Opportunity Area program and is the central shopping, dining and entertainment corridor for the city.
Senator Robert Ortt said, "Investments in our waterfront come back to the community - communities like North Tonawanda - magnified in the form of increased business opportunities, recreational opportunities and visitation. With this additional investment in North Tonawanda's revitalization, we're able to improve Gateway Harbor Park for residents and tourists alike."
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, "Our beautiful Gateway Harbor Park in North Tonawanda is a magnet for people who want to enjoy the waterfront. I'm pleased that Governor Cuomo recognizes the economic and recreational benefits of this park and, with state funds, we were able to enhance the park and its amenities so it can be enjoyed by even more people."
North Tonawanda Mayor Art Pappas said, "Gateway Harbor and the Erie Canal have been the driving force for the growth and development of Webster Street and downtown North Tonawanda. This investment from New York State will help make North Tonawanda a destination for tourists and visitors for years to come."