Tesla monument eyed for Gratwick Park  

A planned art installation dedicated to Nikola Tesla, designed after his famous coil. (Contributed image)

NORTH TONAWANDA — Given Nikola Tesla’s historic importance to the Niagara Region, the North Tonawanda Common Council is considering a new educational art installation about him in Gratwick Park.

The idea came from Paul Swisher, the co-director of the Buffalo-Niagara Nikola Tesla Council (BNNTC) and a former North Tonawanda Schools teacher. Swisher said the BNNTC is interested in putting an art installation called ‘Crests of Coil’ in Gratwick Park.

In Buffalo, the BNNTC donated a companion statue to the one on Goat Island in Niagara Falls, to what is now Nikola Tesla Park.

He spoke about why Tesla has an important history, not just in Niagara Falls, but to North Tonawanda.

“He’s known for the achievement of creating long-distance transmission of alternating electricity from Niagara Falls to Buffalo. What many people don’t know is that the electricity from Niagara Falls was sent to a switch station in North Tonawanda. It was then transmitted from North Tonawanda to Buffalo. That all happened in 1896. Eventually A/C [alternating current] was utilized through the entire planet and ultimately transformed the world.”

What the BNNTC is envisioning is a Nikola Tesla legacy corridor from the Niagara Peninsula to Buffalo, with North Tonawanda being a midway point between the two. Swisher said the primary benefit for this proposed installation at Gratwick Park include an increase in tourism to the city. Along with this, people will also be able to visit the power station on Robinson Street and Twin Cities Memorial Highway, which has been protected as a landmark.

Francis Lestingi, the other co-director of the BNTC, added the council would look to put digitally printed plaques on the coil, providing information about the Tesla coil. After hearing about the idea, members of the North Tonawanda Common Council provided their feedback on the idea.

“The history of North Tonawanda, as far as what happened with our electrification for the Pan-Am was all because of Doctor Tesla,” Council President Robert Pecoraro said. “Our transfer station has already been identified with numerous tours to highlight the fact of our critical importance. History means a lot to us and we applaud this initiative to move forward with that.”

Alderman-at-Large Austin Tylec asked if the duo knows the extra measures that have to be taken for such a structure to stand in the park. For now, this project is in its infancy with other steps that need to be taken first.

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