Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 4, 2013

HIGGS: Block club retreat highlights partnerships

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster spoke of his strong support for Niagara Falls block clubs. He spoke out against the city council majority’s decision to eliminate funding for the Block Club Council. It should be noted he was instrumental in supporting our retreat this year. Spurback stated volunteers are tough people and it is our city and we would continue to work with the partnerships we have made over the years. The mayor stated he just returned from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and took part in “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” advocacy and he supported the governor’s recent legislation. He felt his choice for new Police Chief Bryan DalPorto was a positive decision for the city.

Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo, who has been on the job for barely a year, has created some interesting headlines for his department with his support for assistance to recent college graduates who choose to live in Niagara Falls. I for one am a strong supporter of bringing new and younger persons who are educated and want to take part in community living even if it means helping them financially. After all, are we not financially helping bring a good percentage of our residents to come here who live on government assistance as it is? Seth has assisted in finding ways to rehab housing that can be saved and pointed to the funding for Isaiah 61 Project which is a training program to assist youth in learning a trade by working to save one house at a time. Thinking outside the box has led to several other ideas which can only help neighborhoods which in turn help to reduce crime.

Code Enforcement Director Dennis Virtuoso has always worked closely with block clubs and can be credited with turning this department into a more credible and efficient operation with ten staff members who take pride in their work. They have been able to self fund their department through sharing fines generated through Housing Court and other means. Demolitions are a priority again this coming year and that is something that block clubs have lobbied hard for over these past years. When a property is no long safe and “sound” it needs to come down.

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