Schmigel Seeks Second Term in North Tonawanda’s First Ward

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By: Staff Reporter

Robert D. Schmigel, of North Tonawanda, NY is announcing his intent in running for re-election to the city’s First Ward, as Alderman. Schmigel, who was first elected to the North Tonawanda Common Council in 2019 is seeking his second term for several reasons.

He listed the Covid-19 pandemic as somewhat crippling to his vision to see continued small business growth not only on the Oliver Street corridor (away from the downtown district), but Meadow Drive and the vacancies left by both Dunkin Donuts and Taco Bell. While he is glad to see rebounding of some new business including the re-opening of Brownie’s Sports Bar and Pizza Amore moving into the recently closed Little Caesar’s , he notes there is still vast potential to attract new business throughout the city. He notes that the city has seen challenges during the pandemic but notes its attraction to new business needs to continue on Oliver Street and sees businesses such as Buffalo Wings and Brewhouse, Little Black Heart Coffee, The Mana Bar, and soon to open Mayor’s Pizza as indicators of new business desiring to move into North Tonawanda’s original business district.

The River Road construction, slated to begin late spring will provide a safer access in and out of the city, be biker and pedestrian friendly and the bike path expansion will be keys to continue to be a better link connecting people into the city’s downtown district.

He is also envisioning a more visited Gratwick Park; referred by former City Councilman Russ Rizzo as the Jewel of the First Ward and Schmigel agrees. He wants to see Gratwick Park become the most sought after park in Niagara County because of its spacious location along the Niagara River; attracting more than a summer crowd, using it for youth soccer games, boat launching, or summer concerts, and wants to see it become a 4 season destination for city residents and local communities as well. Stating “Many of us drive past it daily, but how many of us, have enjoyed it for its location, adjacent to the Niagara River, a great place to walk, relax, and admire the sunsets, etc.” He recently asked residents to submit suggestions for what they would like to see added to Gratwick which would make it that city destination. Events like Thunder in Niagara, which draws people from all over the country as an annual event, and is confirmed for 2021, are a great weekend outing as an example. New and improved restrooms are coming to Gratwick and should surely be more welcoming then the previous facilities. The new restrooms are slotted for this year.

Finally, he is proud of his networking with his Council peers, and city department heads, wants to continue to build on those partnerships for the betterment of the First Ward and entire city, and says “This isn’t Washington D.C. politics, what I am doing is representing the residents of the First Ward, who want results, strong communication, and results.” He says this occurs when elected officials work together for the betterment of the city, and that is his plan for his second term. He is honored to sit on the board of the Lumber City Development Corporation, an organization which attracts new business ventures and allows current business to expand through low interest loans, grants, and other avenues, where the mayor and one city official are part of its astute committee members wanting to the city continue to offer viable opportunities for business to succeed and stay in the Lumber City.

While some have painted a dismal financial forecast for the city, Schmigel’s response is the last thing that city officials want to do is raise taxes and burden the taxpayers. Noting the increases this year, they were not as bad as naysayers predicted, and the general fund and water fund do anticipate growth by year’s end by streamlining and not reducing services the residents depend and expect. The TAN, or tax anticipation note, is exactly as it states, a very low interest loan, many municipalities use yearly, to offset money to cover expenses until annual city tax revenues are collected from residents. He notes that even during the best of times, prior to him sitting on the Common Council, the TAN has been exercised by the city and it is a responsible way while in securing funding in lieu of anticipated revenue streams. Its use is suggested as best practice by the state comptroller’s office, and by no means a cry for help.

Schmigel, happily married to his wife for 25 years and proud father of 3 successful adult children, a store manager for CVS, a national pharmacy retailer having 30+ years of manager experience notes that his years in retail have provided insight into running a successful business, while being open minded and proactive, and establishing ties, networking and vendor relations. Schmigel is very optimistic for the future of North Tonawanda and it’s continued forward momentum. He is committed to working with the Mayor, the Common Council, and all city officials to be firm and fair, listen and be proactive in doing what is best for all city residents, and doesn’t backdown while working for a solution.

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