Update on My Progress on Projects as Councilman
By Glenn Choolokian
It is critical for elected officials to periodically report to voters. Therefore, here is a brief update of the projects I have been working on.
Main St. Lighting
We all remember when Main Street was a vital commerce center. Those days are gone. Now we need to develop a new, different business and entertainment district on Main Street. Two years ago, I had the pleasure of working with Ken Hamilton and Rick Crogan to outline the Main Street Entertainment and Business District. By my Council resolution, Main Street has been designated an entertainment and business district.
With the assistance of State Senator George Maziarz we intend to brighten things up along Main Street from Ontario Avenue to Pine Avenue. We will install decorative streetlights similar to the streetlights added to the Deveaux via dock. The new lights will provide attractive, safer lighting for pedestrians and motorists alike. I want to thank Sen. Maziarz for securing the funds for the installation, and Bob Buzzelli from our Engineering Department for his design work.
With over 400 structures in need of demolition in Niagara Falls, in April, 2013, I approached Mayor Paul Dyster about an in-house demolition program. After diligent research and numerous meetings with the DPW Director David Kinney, Deputy Director John Caso, Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson, and the leadership of local city unions, it was agreed that such a program can save substantial costs for our city. Block Club President Roger Spurback supports the program, which would be run like our road, sidewalk and forestry programs. We would do whatever we can in-house. Structures we cannot do would be contracted out. We estimate we can do in-house demolitions 54% cheaper than private demolition contractors.
Hyde Park Golf Course
Our 36-hole Hyde Park Golf Course is heavily used, but often taken-for-granted. The cost/ benefit ratio for the city to run Hyde Park Golf Course must be improved. With the input of Sen. Maziarz, the idea from DPW Director Dave Kinney, and the design work by Mike DeSantis from Engineering, I am planning a solar powered golf cart facility. This project will reduce electric costs as well as improve the golf cart rental experience. Funding for this project has not yet been established, but I am hopeful this innovative plan will bring interested funding sources to the table and ultimately pay for itself.
The administration has accepted my suggestion that we create new world class welcome signs for key entry points into our city. Cooper Sign Co. is performing the design work and hopefully the signs will be installed in 2014.
Finally, it is my dream to build three Niagara Falls Sports Complexes. Each will feature three baseball diamonds (one with lighting), stands, batting cages, concession facilities, and a soccer field. The complexes would be at Hyde Park, Cayuga, and Whirlpool. They would be operated in coordination with our little leagues. Midtown would also get help with their new complex that Norampac will be building. Little league presidents have met with Mayor Dyster and myself and talks have begun. These complexes will not only serve our youth and their families, but can attract organized baseball from across the northeast. Baseball promoters and organizers are constantly seeking top-flight facilities to hold tournaments and would now have reason to enjoy a trip to Niagara Falls. Like youth hockey, baseball players bring their families. Local hotels, restaurants, and stores are patronized, and our bottom line as a tourism destination is enhanced.
However, the main reason for building is not revenue from tournaments; it is children. These facilities will support youth and families. They can also be game changers for the city, drawing visitors from near and far.
I recommend using casino funds to cover construction. Many times we hear there have been no concrete results for casino money being spent. We receive between $19 - $20 million a year in casino revenue and over $200 million since the casino compact was signed. I'm not going to debate past expenditures, but building these complexes will be something substantial - something we can enjoy for decades to come.
In conclusion, some of my projects are completed while others are on the drawing board.
What is important now is that we keep moving forward. Please don't hesitate to call me, stop me on the street, or drop me a line to share your thoughts about how we can make Niagara Falls a better place to live, work, and play.
Glenn A. Choolokian is a Niagara Falls City Council member and lives in Niagara Falls with his wife and two children.
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Mar 04, 2014