Niagara Gazette — The city is set to continue its effort to eliminate blight in Niagara Falls.
The Niagara Falls City Council approved a contract that will see Regional Environmental Demolitions, Inc. take down 20 vacant and dilapidated houses, mostly in the Center City and Memorial Parkway neighborhoods at its Wednesday meeting.
Seth Piccirillo, the director of the city’s Community Development department, said the demolitions are part of a larger revitalization strategy that includes the renovation of houses and the beautification of vacant lots.
“We know that there is blight that needs to be eliminated quickly,” he said. “But housing renovations are actually more important.”
Councilman Andrew Touma, who voted in favor of the contract along with all his colleagues, asked for an explanation on how the houses were selected.
Piccirillo said his department identified three strategic sectors to target with demolition funds from the 2013 budget including downtown, Memorial Parkway and Center City.
The funding for the approved contract, which will pay Regional Environmental Demolition $456,822 for the work, will come from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money and casino revenues, the last of the money allocated for demolitions in the 2013 budget.
Piccirillo said demolitions have taken place in all three of those neighborhoods in the first two contracts awarded from the 2013 budget, but went back through to identify the remaining houses in those neighborhoods that were the best candidates for demolition.
“You’ll start to see some (demolitions) from all those areas,” he said. “We’re going through again.”
The city inspections department keeps a list of properties that are candidates for demolition and then works with the Community Development department to put together packages of about 20 houses for contractors to bid on.
Anytime HUD money is used it must go to low- to moderate-income neighborhoods as where casino revenues can be spent to demolish houses anywhere in the city, Piccirillo said.