by Susan Mikula Campbell
"I think you're going to see Porter Road become the next commercial strip in the Town of Niagara," Steve Richards, town supervisor, said Tuesday.
Richards made his prediction after the Town Board approved Sandro Viola's final site plan for the development of a 12,000-square-foot commercial building at 8605 Porter Road. Richards said Viola plans to build a 10-unit strip plaza. Potential tenants have not been revealed at this time.
Development on Porter Road should "explode over the next six years," Richards said, because of continued growth at the Niagara Falls International Airport and the town's own development of the former U.S. Army Reserve Center and Area Maintenance Facility. "There's no room left on Military Road," Richards said. "Porter Road is a natural corridor to the airport."
The Army completed the move of its operations to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station's side of the runway last year. Negotiations to transfer ownership of the old Porter Road facility to the town and its Local Redevelopment Authority are close to completion, Richards said.
The Local Redevelopment Authority has been investigating possible uses for the property, primarily airport-related, because the property adjoins the airport and its runway. Richards already has been contacted by a major hotel operation about building a four-star hotel at the site. This week, a national parking operation called about possibly using space there for parking.
Last week, State Sen. George Maziarz at a press conference announcing the airport's new Stakeholders Group, noted that the airport is working on its third expansion of its parking area. Two years ago, parking revenue at the airport was zero, because parking was free. In 2012, with parking costing $5 a day, the revenue is expected to be $1.5 million.
"The town could make money at even a dollar a day, and could offer inside parking during inclement weather," Richards said.
The former army property at 9400 Porter Road currently includes a huge hangar and several brick outbuildings.
In other matters at the Town of Niagara Town Board meeting:
•A $230,010 contract for solar lighting along the road and in the parking lot outside the community center in Veterans Memorial Park was awarded to O'Connell Electric of Rochester. Richards said the bid was for 15 fixtures, but because the grant from the New York State Power Authority to pay for the lighting is $400,000, additional lights will be ordered.
Richards said he believes the town's park will be the first in the area to be lit by solar lights.
•Richards commended the work of Highway Superintendent Robert Herman for doing the paperwork that obtained $11,759 in federal and state funds to help pay town overtime and equipment costs during the spring windstorm that brought down trees and power lines.