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Audio: Niagara Falls re-ups with Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Lawmakers in the City of Niagara Falls on Monday night renewed the city's membership with the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, the regional business development and marketing group based in Buffalo.

The City Council approved $50,000 in funding by a 3-1 vote. Funding from the city's share of casino revenue will be used to pay for it. Here's the audio from the vote:

Council Chairman Charles A. Walker said the city does not have anyone currently on staff whose job it is to do what the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise does. The city has property to market, and finding future development opportunities will help grow the tax base, Walker said, describing continued membership as "investing in our city" and helping to drive economic development.

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Audio: Falls lawmakers approve Hamister project

Update: 9:13 p.m.

NIAGARA FALLS - The City Council has voted 3-2 to approve the $25.3 million development proposal from the Hamister Group.

Councilman Bob Anderson announced earlier today he was supporting the project.

Chairman Glenn Choolokian and Councilman Sam Fruscione voted against it.

Listen to the discussion by Council members during tonight's vote:

Documents involving the Hamister's Niagara Falls project

With Bob Anderson announcing his support for the project, the Niagara Falls City Council appears to have three members who will move the item off the table at tonight's meeting and approve it.

Below you will find the Council resolution that was tabled in early July. It's exactly the same thing that lawmakers will vote on tonight.

There is also an Aug. 5 memo from the three-member majority asking for more information, as well as an Aug. 14 memo from Corporation Counsel Craig H. Johnson that addresses each question.

City Council resolution on Hamister project

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Anderson now supports Hamister project

Photo (9) copy
Sam Hoyt, regional head of Empire State Development, right, announces that Niagara Falls Councilman Robert A. Anderson Jr., left, now supports the $25.3 million development proposal from the Hamister Group.

Updated 1:28 p.m.

NIAGARA FALLS - Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. now supports the Hamister Group's development proposal, giving the $25.3 million project the three votes it needs to move ahead at tonight's City Council meeting.

Anderson joins Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti and Councilman Charles Walker, who have previously announced their support of the Hamister Group's hotel, apartment and retail proposal.

Anderson had been voting with Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and Councilman Sam Fruscione on the project since the group in early July tabled a proposal to sell the land at 310 Rainbow Blvd. and reach a development agreement with the Hamister Group.

Anderson said his three main concerns were addressed during conversations with Sam Hoyt, regional head of Empire State Development, over the last 72 hours.

Anderson said he's received assurances about issues concerning the hiring of local workers in the construction, a performance bond for the project and whether the city would be on the hook for liens on the property should the project not be completed.

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Niagara Falls lawmakers table agreement on train station reimbursement

NIAGARA FALLS - The City Council majority on Tuesday tabled a measure that would allow the city to be reimbursed by the federal government for some already incurred expenses of the new train station project.

In July, the Council majority tabled a measure that would have paid the city's consultant about $400,000 of the nearly $1.1 million in services its provided for the project. Ninety-five percent of that amount is reimbursable by the state.

Mayor Paul A. Dyster said that while he does not believe the lack of action cripples the project, the Council putting off a vote does create "a huge amount of uncertainty" with a project that's been years in the making and for which a significant amount of money from others has already been spent.  Dyster

"There was no reason for council not to vote on that," Dyster said after Tuesday's Council meeting.

The mayor offered his version of why he believes the measure was tabled.

Dyster, pictured at right, said he sees a pattern of behavior by the Council majority "against anything that advances the city in any way," pointing to the Hamister development proposal and the train station as examples.

He said the majority's decision making "seems more about politics than economic development."

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Dyster: Council majority 'stalling' on Hamister project

“I don’t know if that’s for some political reason or they’re hoping if they attack the developer enough that they’ll drop out,” Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster told The Buffalo News on Tuesday night. “Why you would want to do that?”

Read the full story here.

Audio: Niagara Falls City Council meeting gets heated

Wednesday night's City Council meeting in Niagara Falls turned into something of a spectacle - not only for what business was or wasn't taken up, but for how lawmakers behaved.

I've broken down the Council's discussion during a vote that would remove from the table a proposed development deal with the Hamister Group for a $25 million mixed-use project downtown. The vote failed with the three-member Council majority voting to keep the proposed agreement on the table.

Let's start with Councilman Robert A. Anderson Jr., who gives a quick "no" vote, and then Councilman Samuel F. Fruscione, who has a bit of a back-and-forth with Mayor Paul A. Dyster at the end of his comments.

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About The Brink

Tales of a world-famous natural wonder and the city that surrounds it. The Brink is home for all you need to know about Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Aaron Besecker

Aaron Besecker

Aaron Besecker joined The Buffalo News in 2007, where he has covered communities in Western New York as a beat reporter, multimedia journalist and assistant online editor. A Buffalo native, he began his career in journalism at the Niagara Gazette.

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