Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 18, 2013

Falls City Council keeps train station project on the tracks

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The train station has become a controversial topic in city hall. The large project has been questioned by members of the city council — specifically Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian, and council members Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr. — who have argued the city cannot afford to continue funding its end of the project because of looming fiscal issues caused, in a large part, by the continuing lack of casino revenues.

Dyster said none of the agenda items required new spending. The city will not have to obligate any new money until a bid recommendation is made, which will likely happen in July.

“That gives the opportunity for the city’s financial situation to be clarified,” he said.

Of particular concern has been fees paid to Wendel Duchscherer, the engineering company that has acted as the lead consultant on the project. Included in the agenda is a resolution asking council to give Dyster’s office the authority to approve an agreement with the firm for work related to bidding out the construction work.

The company estimates that it will charge the city $170,000 for bidding phase services, according to a document attached to the resolution.

Council members have said in the past the city spends too much money on consultants and included all consulting services as part of a spending freeze passed at the March 4 council meeting.

Choolokian said that he and the other council members who voted for the freeze — Fruscione and Anderson — do not have a problem with the city executing the new contract with Wendel Duchscherer because the city will use part of a $2.5 million pot of money from the NYSDOT to pay the engineers.

Choolokian said if the time comes for the city to pay its part for construction and there is no new funding source for the project identified — either money from a resolution to the disagreement over the casino dispute between the Senecas and the state or some other windfall — he would not approve any plan that involves borrowing, addressing a group of local laborers who were at Monday's 4 p.m. session of the council meeting.

“We will not borrow to pay for this,” Choolokian said.

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