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Panel to debate controversy around Ground Zero Islamic center proposal

LEWISTON -- A panel discussion on the controversy surrounding the proposal to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Niagara University's Gallagher Center.

The event is free and open to the public. A 45-minute debate will be followed by a question-and-answer session, the university said in a press release.

Participants will include Dr. Othman Shibly, an active Muslim and clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo; Peter Baxter, assistant political science professor at NU; and Reta Jabar, a student in the Diversity Advocates program at Niagara.

The panel was organized by NU's Middle East and Islamic Studies Committee and Diversity Advocates. For more information, call the university at 286-8696.

Di Camillo's included in magazine story on the 'Hometown Bakery'

An American Profile piece on hometown bakeries across the country includes a local flavor.

Di Camillo Bakery, a Niagara Falls tradition, was included in the story by Marti Attoun.

Here's some of what owner Michael Di Camillo told the author:

“Part of our success has come from the tenacity of the owners,” Di Camillo says. “I remember lean times in the 1950s when everything was supermarket bakeries and Wonder Bread. Now, luckily the world is coming around to us."

Read the full story here.
--Aaron Besecker

Ulrich continues to tout Canal Street for NCCC culinary institute

LOCKPORT -- Developer David L. Ulrich today continued making his pitch for Niagara County Community College to locate its planned culinary institute on Canal Street.

Ulrich called a press conference for late this morning to formally announce his attempt to lure NCCC's project, which has been planned for several sites, most recently the former Rainbow Centre mall in Niagara Falls.

Locating the culinary institute on the Canal Street block would be a "combination of two good ideas," he said, the college's institute and Lockport's refurbished block on the Erie Canal.

View Canal Street - Lockport in a larger map

7:49 p.m.: Here's the full audio of Ulrich's comments from today's event:

1:52 p.m.: Ulrich called the Canal Street block a "premiere venue" with historical appeal that would give the planned culinary institute a "unique identity."

Ulrich claims his proposal would save the college $5 million in construction fees, since there are already buildings on Canal Street.

He also said the Lockport site provides the opportunity for more of a "culinary campus" than a former mall site does.

Part of Ulrich's proposal calls for parking to be available in a city parking structure, with the city's shuttered ramp at Main and Pine streets either being rebuilt or refurbished.

The cost for the parking ramp project is about $5 million, and the city currently has no funding lined up to pay for it, said Mayor Michael W. Tucker.

The college has sent a representative to look at the Canal Street site, Ulrich said, and he hopes to set up a meeting to discuss the proposal with college officials.

The uniqueness of the site -- located adjacent to the Erie Canal in downtown Lockport -- would be a draw to the student population, according to Ulrich. That population is generally younger and would have a greater interest in a site with a unique identity, he said.

The Lockport site could be ready for the culinary institute in the fall of 2011, Ulrich claims, though Tucker said a new parking ramp could take from a year to 15 months to complete once the plans are finalized.

City officials are about to begin developing a budget for next year, Tucker said.

12:44 p.m.: Here's my story from last month when college officials revealed they received a letter from Ulrich touting the Lockport site.

Here's a previous post where you can see Ulrich's renderings of the project and audio clips from college officials.

Also, read Ulrich's letter to college President James Klyczek.

Check back later for more from today's press conference.

--Aaron Besecker

New parking, traffic restrictions coming near Remington loft project

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon to mark the symbolic completion of about a half-million dollar road resurfacing and streetscape project on the Erie Canal.

Following the 1 p.m. ceremony, Sweeney Street between Oliver and Marion streets was reopened to traffic in front of the Remington Lofts on the Canal project.

The Kissling Interests, headed by Anthony Kissling, is turning the former Remington Rand building at 184 Sweeney into 81 work/live loft apartments. The project also includes a restaurant, a hair salon and a yoga studio.

9:14 p.m.: The streetscape work near the lofts project will mean a change in parking and the speed limit in the area, city officials said tonight.

Public Works Superintendent Gary Franklin asked the Common Council to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on Sweeney, between Main and Oliver streets, as well as on Marion Street between Sweeney and Tremont streets.

Franklin also presented a proposed parking plan that will allow vehicles to park on Sweeney and on Marion.

Under the proposal, about 16 on-street spots would be added on Sweeney between Main and Oliver. Between 20 and 25 spots would be added on Marion.

An unpaved parking lot located next to the Dockside Inn is actually property that's owned by Kissling. That parcel is being turned into greenspace and a paved parking lot, though it hasn't been determined whether there will be public parking in the lot, said Robert Welch, aide to Mayor Robert G. Ortt.

Residents and employees of the refurbished building will park in private lots on the property.

Marion Street will remain a one-way street until renovation work on the former Remington Rand is complete, officials said.

The Council must vote to make any changes before they will go into effect.

1:32 p.m.: The first floor of the project, including some apartments as well as the restaurant, salon and studio, is scheduled to open in November, said Gregory Sehr, president of Upstate Consultants of Buffalo, which is working with Kissling on the project.

Site work began on the project on May 1. R&P Oak Hill Development of Buffalo is the construction manager.

--Aaron Besecker

Calamar shifts project site after losing bid for tax break

A Wheatfield-based developer which had planned to build a senior housing development north of Elmira is shifting focus to Steuben County.

Calamar Enterprises was unable to get a property tax abatement for the project in Horseheads, according to this story from the Elmira Star-Gazette.

Full text of air base e-mail about 'Native American threat'

This is the e-mail sent by an official at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to all base personnel last week. Information from this message was included in this story published Wednesday.

Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 3:07 PM
To: NFIAP-ARS Basewide


SUMMARY:  New York State (NYS) Governor (Gov) David Paterson on Thursday, 26 Aug 10 promised to finally start collecting taxes on cigarettes sold by Native American stores, despite NYS Police warnings that such enforcement could result in "violence and death."The state plans to collect a $4.35 (per-pack) sales tax on cigarettes sold by Native American retailers to non-Indian customers beginning next Wednesday, 01 Sep 10. Tribes have refused to collect the tax, citing their sovereignty and treaties dating to 1794. The last time the state tried to collect the tax, in 1997, protests erupted and tires were burned on the NYS Thruways, shutting down a 30-mile stretch. Gov. Patterson stated "There will be quite an uprising and protest to this, but I am going to maintain this policy". The NYS Police urged over and over again that there could be violence and death as a result of some of the measures taken. Seneca Indian Nation President Barry Snyder has repeatedly said "violence is not on our agenda," but the nation's leadership acknowledges that some of the tribe's more than 7,000 members might disagree. Many smokers drive to reservation retailers in New York to buy cigarettes at nearly half-price. Reservation stores sold more than 24 million cartons of cigarettes in 2009, about 1 out of every 3 packs sold in the state.


ADVISORY:  Base personnel are known to frequent Native American business establishments. Due to the increased threat it is strongly recommended personnel limit their travels in and around Local Reservation areas (Tuscarora, Allegany, Irving) to include Native American operated casinos. If travel through these areas is unavoidable, members should maintain heightened situational awareness to malicious activity. Those personnel who patron Native American retailers should remain cognizant of the current threat and report any adverse activity to the NYS Police or the closest servicing law enforcement agency. Personnel should not engage or interact with malevolent activity and immediately vacate to seek haven.


"Awareness + Commonsense = Reduced Risk"