NORTH TONAWANDA — In the coming years, the North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens will be undergoing several changes to accommodate a new master plan which will include a new education and visitor center, bee hives and new walking paths.
David Conti and Laura Pecoraro, who serve as chairman and secretary for the North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens Organization (NTBGO), respectively, said they are expecting the project to greatly enhance the offerings at the gardens.
“We’re all really excited about this design,” Pecoraro said. “It gives us a way forward to have more of a presence in the Botanical Garden and in the city, a place for people to find out more about the Botanical Garden, places for meetings and a much better greenhouse facility.”
Currently, the gardens have a greenhouse and lush fields for people to roam but not much else. Conti said the current facilities were not doing what the NTBGO wanted them to do and knew it was time for a change. The new facility’s design, along with the many other improvements, will make the gardens a destination, Pecoraro said
The new greenhouse is an important part of this new development as it’s going to house plants to sell and propagate. It can also be used for education opportunities, with Conti saying a butterfly conservatory will be added as well. The building will have a green roof, water capture, solar panels and numerous other environmentally friendly aspects.
Funding options are being explored, leaving the timeline a bit uncertain. Meetings will be held next week to talk with grant sources. The estimated cost for the visitor center is between $2.5 million and $3 million, though this is just for the facility, not the master plan, officials said.
Beekeeping is another feature included in the plan. NTBGO member Colleen Erick will be responsible for researching the subject as well as looking for equipment. Erick will also be garnering funding for any equipment she is unable to get herself. Officials said a special type of grass will be required to put the hives on. Plantings are already surrounding the location where the hives will be located.
The entire project is expected to take about two years.