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Water Board absent from damage debate

  The Niagara Falls Water Board was a no-show at a community meeting in the Falls on Tuesday to discuss damages to homes in the 56th Street neighborhood caused by a water main break last month.

   Neither the agency's staff nor its appointed board members agreed to attend the meeting at Niagara Falls Vineyard Church organized by the community group LaSalle Pride.

   That disappointed neighborhood residents, but hardly surprised them.

   The public agency has already advised them it does not believe it is legally responsible to pay for the damage and has called the water main break an "unexpected event."

   Water Board Executive Director Gerald Grose, in a letter to LaSalle Pride declining its invitation to attend the meeting, said the agency's investigation is "ongoing and we are not in a position to provide further information."

   Grose said the Water Board "is sympathetic about this incident and to individual customer  circumstances."

   "However, it is our position that the water main break did not occur as a result of the NFWB's negligence," Grose wrote.

   The Water Board, which was spun off from the city's control in 2003, operates as a public authority. Its board members are appointed by state and city leaders.

   Niagara Falls Councilman Charles Walker pointed out Tuesday that the agency's leaders must still answer to the public.

   "The same people are paying the bill," Walker told the residents. "And that's you."

   -- Denise Jewell Gee


Niagara Falls
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