Niagara Gazette —
Crinieri, who now volunteers at the mission, said for him and many men like him, the overnight program is a vehicle to completely transforming into a new person.
"The mission saved my life and if it wasn't for the mission I wouldn't be standing here," he said. "I'd be probably in state prison or six feet under."
Ruth Cooper, a Memorial Park Block Club member, told the Gazette earlier this month she and other block club members are not against providing services to vulnerable populations in the city, but are concerned about such facilities operating in residential neighborhoods.
Cooper attended Monday’s council meeting but did not speak during the public comment period, nor did anyone from the block club. She declined to comment following the meeting saying only that she still believes this is a legal issue.
Council Chairman Charles Walker noted the council has no power to give approval to a zoning variance, as that decision is in the hands of the zoning board of appeals.
He added that he believes the issue highlights the need for the city to tackle the problem of poverty.
"We, as a city, we really need to look at the whole issue of how we're addressing poverty," Walker said.
Walker said he understands the value the mission brings to the city, but the council also has to consider the concerns of the people who live close to places like the mission.
"We're not saying we want to throw anybody on the street," he said. "At the same time we have to be also concerned about the communities in which these places are placed."
In other matters, the council:
• Approved three measures related to the construction of the Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center, the long-anticipated North End project, including a $22.7 million construction contract with Scrufari Construction. Work on the construction phase of the $40 million project is expected to start next month and be completed by early 2016.
• Authorized a project labor agreement with the Niagara County Building Trades and Construction Council for work to be performed on a vacant fire hall on Highland Avenue this year. The city is using a state grant to convert the building into a new headquarters for the Isaiah 61 Project, a not-for-profit that provides job training in the building trades while renovating vacant, city owned houses.
Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257