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JUNE 30 - JULY 08, 2015

It's a Sweet World If You're In With the 'In' Crowd. In North Tonawanda at least.

By Sweeney Payne

JUNE 30, 2015

Colonel Payne School in 1957.

What luck!

Michael Carney, one of Niagara County powerhouse, Henry Wojtaszek’s allies is, coincidentally, the only one who “requested to fill the position” vacated by Henry Wojtaszek’s ally William Paton on the North Tonawanda Planning Board? 

At least that is what NT Common Council President Russ Rizzo said at a recent Council meeting.

But then again will someone please tell me how anyone but Carney was supposed to know there was a vacancy on the planning board for which they could apply anyway?

By the way, I referred to that person formerly known as Russ Rizzo.

Mea culpa.

He is not Russ Rizzo but is now using the more prestigious Phillip ‘Russ’ Rizzo again. 

Although it is perhaps inconsequential, Philip Russ is a little off on his dates, a minor point, a mere 44 years, when he stated to the Buffalo News that the Schenck Street lot which Michael Wachowicz wants to have rezoned, was “a parking lot from the bowling alley for a hundred years.” 

The bowling center operated there for approximately 56 years.

Rizzo added Wachowicz “bought the bowling alley (on Division Street) and put in a Dollar General, a print shop and a sign shop.” 

The bowling alley actually was on Schenck Street, not Division.  The Dollar General simply cannot be on Division because Twin City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway is in between it and Division Street.

But our Philip Russ, then just Russ, in 2014, must be excused since, when alderman-at-large, the late Robert J. Clark, suggested naming part of River Road in honor of Purple Heart recipients, had no idea of what part of the roadway a previous Council (on which he served) had been named in honor of Prisoners of War-Missing in Action servicemen and women.  

Wachowicz on the other hand, got the former Parkside Bowling Center building and the parking lot that had been the location of Pine Woods School from 1892 until it was torn down in 1983 for $185,000 in 2009.

Wachowicz said at the June 16 Council meeting that he’d like to clean up the Schenck Street property and develop it.  If he’s been the owner since 2009, why hasn’t he cleaned it up just a wee little bit because he owns it? 

What perks will he get if he gets the rezoning approved?

Wachowicz appears to live in East Amherst, owns and operates MIRIS at 393 River Road and uses that address for his MCW Construction.

He operates Michael’s Landing, a banquet facility, at 377 Sweeney Street at Payne Avenue on the banks of the canal.  Residents of the Sweeney and Payne neighborhood, who expressed their concerns about losing a portion of the parkland along the canal, were not taken seriously when he was given the go ahead to do that project, including a parking lot.

What taxpayer funded benefits did he get to make that project happen?

Now he wants to rezone the Schenk Street property from R-2 to R-C and construct, using his MCW Construction, an 11-unit “office park” (two stories).  He claims it would provide good offices for contractors.

Does that mean there will be contractors’ trucks and heavy equipment parking across from Pinewoods Park and increased truck traffic on a residential street with a playground in the park? 

Would he care, since he doesn’t live in NT?

He has owned the Colonel Payne School building on Wheatfield Street for 10 years and it is empty and deteriorating. 

Just a suggestion: Why can’t he renovate that building and make it his “office park” for contractors? 

And he has owned 34-38 Webster in some arrangement with LCDC for several years.

Sources tell us he is selling it to Greg Doel, who is believed to be a partner with former mayor Dave Burgio in 26 Webster LLC.  They will soon own all of the block of Webster Street between Tremont and Sweeney.

Burgio, with the 26 Webster LLC, owns the 62-64-66 Webster building for which he reaped taxpayer benefits.

It’s a great world, our North Tonawanda, if you’re in with the 'In' crowd.





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