By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
— After years of talking about a new pavilion at Niawanda Park in Tonawanda, the structure is beginning to take shape.
With foundational work completed and walls and a roof almost formed, city Engineer Jason LaMonco said the project should be finished by late June or early July.
“They’ve started to do the wood framing, they got to the exterior walls in place, they’re putting on the roof,” he said. “We had some issues with the foundations and a lot of that work takes a long time.”
LaMonco added that while a lot of that work has been done in a relatively short order, leaving the impression for many residents that it will be operational in the very near future, there remains months of work to on the interior that will need the attention of plumbers and electricians.
The $1 million project was made possible through funding from the Niagara River Greenway Commission, while the building is expected to be able hold about 125 people and used year-round.The venue also will be heated and air conditioned when complete.
Mayor Ron Pilozzi said the idea for the pavilion dates back to 2005, when he was campaigning.
“One of the things I promised and I platformed was improvements to Niawanda Park,” he said. “I oftentimes looked at the Noco Pavilion in the Town of Tonawanda and said, ‘wouldn’t it be great to have similar facilities along our riverfront?’”
Pilozzi said the city recieved $877,000 through the Greenway funding, while approximately $123,000 came from city coffers, with the council putting a cap on the project at $1 million. The pavilion could receive additional funding from the state, through Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, which would be used for additional updates.
“We started doing some value engineering and took things out,” Pilozzi said. “My committment for this community and this particiualr project is to make it a Class A project that residents can be proud of.”
The pavilion will be a revenue stream for the city, Pilozzi said, though it has yet to be decided whether it would be leased out to caterers or held under city control and rented case by case. Naming rights also could bring in additional money to the city’s coffers.
“We’re lucky, it’s one of the larger projects approved by the Niagara River Greenway and believe me when I tell you, it’s a dream that I had ever since I took office,” he said. “We don’t want to take business away from local restaurants, what we want to do is give people options.”