By David Yarger
At Tuesday night’s North Tonawanda Common Council meeting, Recreation Director Alex Domaradzki and Lumber City Development Corporation Executive Director Michael Zimmerman briefly discussed possible improvements to Gratwick Riverside Park.
The duo said they are looking for Greenway funding for two new pavilions and portable trailer-like restroom facilities at the park.
The search is in its early stages and Domaradzki said to conduct the improvements, the city is applying for a $287,000 grant.
“If you’ve ever been to some national parks or some high-end concerts, they have these similar trailers. The issue with Gratwick Park is it is a brownfield site and there’s a cap that makes plumbing and all that good stuff very particular to do, very expensive to do. So this will bring kind of a permanent bathroom feel to the park, as opposed to those little outhouses,” Domaradzki said.
He added that the possible plans will be discussed at the city’s next Common Council workshop at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11.
“It’s a very multi-step process,” Zimmerman said. “It would require submission to the Niagara County Legislature, ad hoc committee of legislature and then full body of legislature, which would happen in June; a submission to the (Niagara River) Greenway Commission for consistency review, which would happen in September; and then another presentation to the (Greenway) Host Community Standing Committee. … So in terms of project planning and budgeting, assuming all these steps and procedures go through, this would be a project for 2020 funds.”
Common Council President Eric Zadzilka said, “We don’t want to leave any money on the table when it comes to New York state. This park has become a destination. Russ Rizzo always used to call it ‘the jewel of the First Ward.’ We just feel that with all that’s going on there with soccer going on there and concerts going on there … it would be a good idea to have a permanent restroom facility, to examine what that entails and to go after a grant. I think any grant money that’s out there now, might not be out there later.”
Zadzilka added, “We do know there’s a process here that we’re really going to have to examine, but at the same time, we want to put our best foot forward and try to go after this grant.”
Alderman Austin Tylec said he has received complaints from parkgoers about the lack of permanent bathroom facilities, and if this plan is the best form to spend Greenway money, then “it seems like you did your homework on it.”
Tylec asked about possible locations for the restroom facility and if the city would have to hire someone to clean out the trailers.
Domaradzki said those questions will be answered at the workshop and that it is an “extensive process,” and one of the biggest expenses will be finding a way to get power where it needs to be for a functional facility.
Domaradzki added, “I do think as a taxpayer, we want to be smart with the way we do it. … We want to do it right and not piecemeal it.”