TONAWANDA, N.Y. - After the closure of NRG Energy's Huntley coal plant on River Road in Tonawanda last March, the community must now determine how to revitalize the economy and potentially redevelop the waterfront corridor.
That was the focus of Thursday night's community meeting, planned by the coalition named "Tonawanda Tomorrow."
Jobs, the economy, and ideas for development were discussed at the meeting in small groups by dozens of people who live or work in the Town of Tonawanda and surrounding communities. During the group discussions, people had a chance to write down ideas for what they'd like to see in on that waterfront corridor. The responses ranged from more cultural amenities and restaurants to more public green space.
The closure of the Huntley plant was the cause of significant anxiety in the community, since it was the largest taxpayer in the Town of Tonawanda and contributed heavily to the Ken-Ton school district. The state, however, offered $30 million in relief to help offset the lost tax revenue.
Rebecca Newberry, the executive director of the Clean Air coalition, said the closure of the plant is a chance for a new opportunity.
"I think the story right now is vision," Newberry said. "We've been working with our residents and members of the community to really tackle something that people across the country are tackling."