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Niagara Falls lawmakers delay land sale for $25 million project

The City Council has put off a decision on whether to transfer a downtown parcel for a proposed $25.3 million mixed-use development project.

Monday night’s 3-2 vote was not unexpected, as Council Chairman Glenn A. Choolokian said last week the three-member Council majority had concerns about the value of the Rainbow Boulevard parcel, as well as what he characterized as a lack of information provided to lawmakers throughout the development negotiations.

On Monday afternoon, the head of Empire State Development said the city should think about any message it sends to developers.

********* 9:57 p.m. update: Full story here.

Niagara Falls lawmakers wary of Hamister hotel deal (read the full Council agenda)

A $25.3 million proposal from the Hamister Group to build a five-story mixed-use development, including a 100-room hotel, in downtown Niagara Falls looks like it will face some resistance from the City Council.

Council Chairman Glenn A. Choolokian said this morning the council's three-member majority is looking to table an agreement to transfer the city-owned parcel at 310 Rainbow Blvd. for the project.

Choolokian said he believes the proposed $100,000 sale price for the parcel is too low and the Council has never been told about the six other proposals the state received for the property.

"It's just too shady for me, too shaky," Choolokian said.

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Niagara Falls City Council chairman weighs in on casino cash

In an op-ed piece published Friday in the Niagara Gazette, City Council Chairman Glenn A. Choolokian urges careful consideration before the city decides how to spend what's going to be left of the $89 million it's getting, now that there's a deal between the Seneca Nation of Indians and the state.

Choolokian says the city should adopt a "money-management plan" as opposed to a "spending plan." 

He boils down what he says lies ahead for the city:

"The only two questions we need to keep in mind as we administer the casino funds are: Is this particular project/proposal/expenditure needed and is it good - ultimately good in the long term - for Niagara Falls and its taxpayers."

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City announces creation of 'Neighborhood Blight Task Force'

Here's the news release issued late this afternoon:

Today, Mayor Paul Dyster and City Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian announced the formation of the Neighborhood Blight Task Force.  This task force is being formed to initiate new ways to fight the blight in our neighborhoods. 

“Our residents live in our neighborhoods everyday, and they know what the City’s needs are,” said Mayor Paul Dyster. “This task force will create an open and productive dialogue with our citizens, giving them a chance to be part of the solution.” The mission of this task force is to stream line and improve existing ordinances as well as create new ordinances that could help fight the blight in our City neighborhoods.  "Grass root input is always valuable to a municipality as it seeks solutions to problems. This task force is a wonderful example of how community and government can work cooperatively for mutual benefit," said Glenn Choolokian, City Council Chairman. 

The Neighborhood Blight Task Force is a direct response to the current difficult economic climate. “The City of Niagara Falls is working with fewer funds and less employees. The Department of Code Enforcement alone went from ten inspectors in 1992 to three inspectors in 2013,” said Dennis Virtuoso, Director of Code Enforcement. “This task force will help us find creative and cost effective ways to improve our neighborhoods and discuss new ordinance options with the public.”

The task force will be comprised of the following individuals, groups, and city departments: 

·        Mayor Paul Dyster
·        Chairman Glenn Choolokian 
·        Members of Niagara Falls Block Clubs 
·        The Landlord Association of Greater Niagara 
·        Craig Johnson, Corporation Counsel 
·        Dennis Virtuoso, Director of Code Enforcement 
·        Seth Piccirillo, Director of Community Development 
·        Niagara Falls Fire Department 
·        Niagara Falls Police Department 
·        Department of Public Works

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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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