By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster has included a resolution asking the Niagara Falls City Council to accept a challenge grant from the John R. Oishei Foundaton that would restore funding cut from the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in the agenda for Monday's City Council meeting.
The three lawmakers who voted to cut the NACC's funding — Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian, and council members Robert Anderson Jr. and Sam Fruscione — told Robert D. Gioia, the president of the foundation, they would not accept the foundations challenge grant during the Feb. 19 council meeting. But no formal vote on the matter took place.
The foundation offered to match every dollar of funding the council was willing to restore up to $15,000. Were the city to match the full amount offered, all of the $30,000 cut from the NACC when the three council members voted to deny the center's appropriation agreement would be returned.
In his resolution, Dyster said the council needs to formally vote on a resolution to put on record whether they will accept the grant challenge.
"As this is a monetary offer to the city of Niagara Falls, just as with the acceptence of certain grants, acceptance or denial of these funds is being submitted for a full city council vote," Dyster said in the resolution.
Dyster also circulated a press release highlighting the resolution that noted the many investments — about $10 million worth since 2006 — the foundation has made with various organizations in the Falls.
Dyster said he hopes the three council members that voted to deny the NACC funds will reconsider accepting the challenge grant.
"I just wanted to put it on the agenda to get some closure," he said.
Choolokian said he feels that the resolution was not a legislative formality, but an attempt to rehash a topic that has garnered the three council members sharp criticisms at recent council meetings.
"I think the mayor is trying to embarrass the city council," he said.
Choolokian said none of the members who voted to cut the funds to the NACC have changed their minds and the council would vote the measure down.
Those council members have maintained that the cuts to the NACC and other organizations made last month are necessary because the city has looming financial issues that need to be addressed.
"The city council is going to move forward and try to figure out what we're going to do with this financial situation this summer," Choolokian said.