Niagara Gazette — Financial documents associated with the Joseph Davis Park Local Development Corporation, obtained through a Freedom of Information request filed by the Niagara Gazette, show the town authorized more than $1 million worth of expenditures during the LDC board’s two-plus years of existence.
Records show the town spent $186,000 in 2011, $648,000 in 2012 and $217,000 in 2013 on LDC-related activities.
The highest percentage of funds were paid to CEA International, a consulting company out of Rochester. Its president and chief executive, Louis Giardino, received $259,000 from the town over the course of the LDC’s involvement. He served as the advisor and public voice to the corporation’s all-volunteer board.
Giardino said his firm got involved because it was looking to make an impact at the park with an idea in a community that seemed interested in making the promise of park improvements a reality.
“I don’t ever engage in a project just for a fee,” Giardino said. “I got involved because I believed in it, that it was a great choice. Had I known this project was going to take two years of my life, I would never have agreed to be involved in it and never would’ve recommended the town go forward with the idea.”
Giardino said he only advised the LDC on its best course of action. He said he billed the town $150 per hour — lower than his normal hourly rate — and never charged for gas or travel expenses even though he frequently traveled from Rochester to Lewiston. He said he also did not accept reimbursement for costs related to negotiating trips he and other took to Albany where they met with state representatives to discuss Joseph Davis Park matters.
Giardino said he also got involved in the effort due to the involvement of state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, whom he said supported the idea of the town developing the property in an effort to make Joseph Davis State Park more appealing to residents and visitors.