By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls City Council gave a big boost to the Department of Public Works at Monday's meeting.
The council voted unanimously to pass a pair of measures that will allow DPW to enlist some outside help for two services always of concern to Niagara Falls taxpayers — tall grass and potholes.
The council voted to allow Mayor Paul Dyster's administration to extend contracts with Patch Management, Inc. and Niagara Grass Cutting for another year. Patch Management will receive $140,000 — $70,000 for last year's services and $70,000 for this year's work — and $50,000 will be paid to Niagara Grass Cutting to cut and clean vacant lots throughout the city.
David Kinney, the department's director, said he is very excitied that the city will continue utilizing the services.
"For us it makes a huge difference," he said. "It frees us up to do other work."
Kinney said Patch Management and the company's "pothole killer" truck will be particularly important this year, after a winter that saw many freezes and thaws.
"There are an immense number of potholes out there," he said. "That machine allows us to get a lot of labor-intensive work done in a short period of time."
And with the vacant lots being contracted out, his guys can concentrate on parks and medians, Kinney added.
"I simply don't have the personnel or the equipment to do it," he said.
Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said he was able to work with members of Dyster's administration to find money in the budget to ensure the services would be provided.
"It was already budgeted in the general fund so it's not like we're grabbing money from some new money," Choolokian said. "The money was there."
Choolokian said it is important for the city to keep up on maintaining the lots that it owns to set a good example.
"We have over 600 lots and it's our obligation to cut them," he said. "So thank god we found the money."
In other council news;
• Two resolutions were passed in remembrance of the Armenian genocide, in which the Ottoman Empire systematically exterminated somewhere between 600,000 and 1.8 million Armenians in what is today the Republic of Turkey. One resolution recognized the the acts as genocide, something the Turkish government has yet to do. The other established April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day in Niagara Falls. Choolokian is an Armenian-American. The measures were approved unanimously.
• A resolution was approved to provide DPW with an additional $5,300 in overtime funds so crews can move the city-owned bandstand around for various events in 2013. Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti put forth the only no vote.
• A measure was approved that will allow CRC Enterprises, the company that won the rights to advertise on Hyde Park Golf Course in October, to also advertise on signage near the clubhouse not included in the original agreement. CRC paid $4,000 for the rights to advertise through the 2015 season in the October agreement and will pay the city 25 percent of what it makes off of the additional signage, according to the resolution. Councilman Sam Fruscione abstained from the vote because the owner of CRC Enterprises, Charles R. Colavecchia, is a family friend. Grandinetti voted no while Choolokian, Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. and Councilman Charles Walker voted yes, passing the measure.Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257