Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 30, 2008

PRIMATE SANCTUARY: Falls neighbors approve; Wilson residents wary

WILSON — Carmen Presti’s neighbors in mid-city Niagara Falls hope he keeps his monkeys and exotic birds in the yellow brick building on Livingston Avenue.

However, the 26 primates and assorted birds are crammed in the former store, and he hopes to give them more room in a primate sanctuary in Wilson. The Youngstown and Fitch Road neighbors are against it and have voiced their objections to the board.

“I think the people in Wilson are just being prejudiced. I really do. They just don’t want them there, and it’s nonsense,” said Dorothy Bowers, a grandmother who lives on Livingston across the street. “They are animals, and people love the animals. We go look at them. My grandkids love them. I love them, and we don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Latisha Hall, who lives nearby said, “My 12-year old daughter comes here all the time. They have them outside and let you touch them, the little ones and big ones. They are no problem to the neighborhood, none whatsoever.”

Presti, who is a Wilson taxpayer, will meet with the Wilson Town Board on Wednesday hoping he can allay property-owner fears. “It’s safe,” he said. “These animals are wonderful animals. You fear what you don’t know ... They need bigger digs, and that’s what we’re going to do out here.”

Presti said that he came to Wilson in 2001 before he bought the property and felt there would be no problem. In 2006, he talked to zoning board.

Opponents are concerned with the safety, the noise, the smell, the pollution and that Presti will not pay taxes.

“It concerns me as well,” Supervisor Joe Jastrzemski said. “I do know he would like to be tax-exempt. I don’t have a problem of him being tax-exempt himself, but if he would like to put up a 12,000-square-foot building, my contention is, he’s got to pay taxes on it.”

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