Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 4, 2013

HAMILTON: Milk, politicians and our housing authority

Niagara Gazette — Without a doubt, milk is my favorite beverage. For me, it has always represented the ultimate in purity, sweetness and refreshment. It is my comfort food.

But, when the Niagara Falls Housing Authority representatives showed up at a city council meeting this week, asking that the council support the repairing of a city-owned parking lot that is across the street from their own parking lot at Wrobel Towers, milk didn’t seem so sweet to me then.

Here’s why. I found myself driving down Calumet Avenue that evening after the meeting. Calumet runs through Norstar Development’s and the Niagara Falls Housing Authority’s HOPE-VI Center Court project. The street has lights on nearly every pole throughout the area, and is arguably made the most well-lit community in the city. I then said to myself that if the housing authority is asking the city to repair street lights in a city parking lot that is, for all intents and purposes, used exclusively by those who service Wrobel Towers, then they are now clearly trying to again ‘milk’ both the city and its taxpayers. For me, as it ought to be for you, too, that is no longer sweet and refreshing — but it is purely something else.

You see, city planning board members, as well as myself, insist that the cost of the Calumet Avenue streetlights were included in the developers’ approved plans, and that the cost of the placement of such should have been borne by them. Instead, they stuck a gullible city with the bill. Being successful at such, apparently they came back to the council’s Committee of the Whole (COW) to ask for more milk — again for free!

Now I don’t blame them; those authority representatives are doing their jobs. Institutions do what institutions do — and that is first and foremost, “whatever it takes” to preserve themselves. But it is time that the city leaders begin to do the same — and that is whatever it takes to preserve the fiscal position of the city, even at the risk of the mayor’s and the council’s own, individual positions.

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