Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 18, 2013

Demo work approved

Niagara Gazette — City lawmakers have approved funding for a second round of demolitions in support of an ongoing effort to tear down more than 50 vacant houses this year.

Niagara Falls Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo said approval from the city council for the next round of demolitions contracts should meet or exceed the city's stated goal for 2013.

"We're going to hit that 54 demolition number that we presented," Piccirillo said. "That's absolutely still the goal."

The city has awarded the latest demolition contract to Regional Environmental Demolition, the same Niagara Falls contractor that secured the first award to demolish 14 houses earlier this year.

The contractor came in with a low bid of $578,000 for the new, 20-house package.

Piccirillo said RED came in on time and under budget on the first contract.

"We know that they are a qualified bidder because they just performed on the first contract," Piccirillo said.

Piccirillo said by putting out smaller bidding packages the city can drive competition between contractors. In addition, he said the department has been concentrating demolitions in one area instead of using a scattershot approach as has happened in years past.

While the first round of demolitions took place almost entirely on fourth and fifth streets the demolitions outlined in the contract approved on Monday will be in the area surrounding Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

"We feel like the plan is working," Piccirillo said. "We're happy with that."

Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said he has been happy with the progress on demolitions, but would like to see more done next year.

"I think we need to be more aggressive," Choolokian said.

Choolokian said that with casino revenues from the gaming compact between New York state and the Seneca Nation of Indians restored the city should be able to find more funding for demolitions.

"I'd like to see more money coming from the casino revenues and the general fund going toward demolitions," Choolokian said.

The city can promote economic development through targeted demolitions, Choolokian said.

"People don't want to invest in an area that's got a lot of blight," he said.

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257

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