Niagara Gazette — During that meeting, Choolokian asked USA Niagara President Chris Schoepflin about the city’s contribution of the land as an incentive for the developer, suggesting he understood at the time that the city would allow the land to be turned over as part of its support for the project.
“Are we still on track that this is going to cost the city of Niagara Falls no money other than giving you guys the land?” Choolokian said during the meeting.
The city was to give the developer land under the original agreement. During negotiations that changed and Hamister Group agreed to pay the city $100,000 for the downtown parcel.
Choolokian said his question during the 2012 meeting was a simple clarification on what might happen, but that nothing was “concrete” at that point in time.
As time went by, the council was not made aware of details of the agreement as they emerged, according to Choolokian. After investigating the value of the land on his own, Choolokian grew more concerned that the city was making a mistake, he said.
“Nothing was ever brought back to us,” Choolokian said.
Walker and Grandinetti have both said all council members were fully informed about the details of the project throughout the negotiation process.
“We were pretty much given all the information we needed to make a decision,” Walker said during an interview last week.
Mayor Paul Dyster, who has supported the project since Hamister Group was announced as the preferred developer, said his administration believes the property is worth more than the $100,000 associated with the parcel in the deal.
But, the city will be able to attract $22 million in private money by including the parcel in the deal, he said.
“The donation of the property to the developer is the city’s contribution to getting the project done,” Dyster said.mug of Anderson, Robert Robert Anderson Undecided on vote