Niagara Gazette — The people spoke during Monday's meeting of the Niagara Falls City Council.
They packed a standing-room-only City Hall. More than 30 of them approached the podium to address city lawmakers.
The majority — all but a few — spoke in favor of continuing city funding for three longstanding community groups, including the Niagara Beautification Commission, the Niagara Falls Block Club and the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.
While we understand the unfortunate position of the city in light of the ongoing stalemate over casino revenue, now is not the time to reduce funding to the NBC or the block club, two groups whose volunteer members serve on the front lines in this community's never-ending battle against blight, crime and other quality of life concerns.
There is never a good time to eviscerate a valued community institution like the NACC, a place where — as dozens of speakers noted Monday — residents and families gather to enjoy music, art, theatre and dance.
Such things may not be budgetary necessities and are certainly not as vital as, say, public safety.
But, they have value as demonstrated by those 100 plus people, many of them taxpaying residents — who showed up Monday night to plea for the city's help in sustaining them.
While we agree the NBC and the block clubs perform vital services, we feel compelled to echo the sentiment of the majority of the council meeting speakers who consider the NACC an especially important part of the Niagara Falls community.
In addition to the community services offered on site, there are the 80 or so artists who rent space inside the building — talented people from the Falls, Lewiston, Buffalo and other parts of Western New York and even other parts of the country. The NACC has become a home away from home for many of them and they are contributing to the local economy every time they buy lunch at a restaurant on Pine Avenue or stop at a local convenience store for gas station. Indeed, several of these artists have taken up residence near the building, occupying previously unwanted properties on side streets near the intersection of Pine Avenue and Portage Road.