By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The plan to demolish around 50 houses in Niagara Falls this year is moving along on schedule.
Seth Piccirillo, the director of the city's Community Development department, told members of the city council he expects the first round of demolitions to begin in June during an update at Monday's council meeting.
"We are confident on this schedule, even factoring any delays in the process, that the public will see these houses taken down in June," Piccirillo said. "I expect the completion of the first target area by mid-September."
Piccirillo said the asbestos survey on the first round of houses should be done by the end of April and calculated the bidding process as taking around 42 days.
"We plan to execute two to three additional contracts for different target areas in the 2013 construction season, using January as an end date," Piccirillo said.
The city choose downtown for the first target area because it would be the most visible area and because the city received a grant designated specifically for reducing blight in downtown from the state.
"It was important for us to have downtown as a target area because we wanted to show clear results," Piccirillo said.
Community Development will begin preparing more bid packages — set for other target areas near Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and a larger residential area in the center of the city — as it works to complete the first demolitions, so that there will be no gaps in the demolition process, Piccirillo said.
"Ideally we will have two, and then three, simultaneous contracts," he said.
Councilman Robert Anderson Jr., who has said that demolitions should continue to be a priority for the city, said it seemed as though the process was continuing to run smoothly.
"Anything to do with demolition has to be a positive in this city," he said.
While 50 houses is a small amount compared to the amount of vacant houses in the city, Anderson said he was happy to be demolishing that many in such a tight budget year.
"It's better than nothing."
In other council news:
• The council voted to table a resolution from Mayor Paul Dyster asking them to approve a consulting contract with Rink Specialties for work on rink 1 at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion after hearing a presentation from Thermo Source, an alternative energy company that specializes in ice rink systems run on geothermal systems. The council will vote on the resolution during a special meeting next Monday at 5 p.m., as a decision needs to be made quickly to ensure that construction does not interfere with the 2013-14 hockey season.
• The council approved a measure that will pull money from the council contingency fund to operate the city pools and spray parks at an estimated cost of $77,000 for the summer.
• The council passed a resolution to honor Bishop Euriah Colvin for his dedication to community and service in the wake of his death last week. Colvin was the pastor at New Jerusalem Revival Center Independent Church of God in Christ on 20th Street and ran a list of organizations that worked to better the community.