Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 20, 2011

Field of dreams coming?

NIAGARA FALLS — The developers of a $430 million linerboard manufacturing plant off Packard Road are still trying to come to terms on the acquisition of a piece of land needed to move the project forward.

Norampac, whose affiliate Greenpac, LLC, is looking to build a new facility as part of an expansion project that would lead to the creation of more than 100 permanent jobs, is still negotiating with representatives from the Midtown Little League as part of a bid to acquire roughly 18 acres of land at the intersection of 47th Street and Packard Road.

Midtown Little League President Paul Tiberi said Friday he’s optimistic the deal will be completed. Tiberi said he was not at liberty to discuss details of the negotiations but board members are taking steps to make sure the league’s interests are fully protected in a move to a new site. He expects an agreement to be finalized soon.

“We’re excited about it,” Tiberi said. “We’re willing to work with Norampac. We’re hoping the deal will be done soon. I’m just concerned about the Little League.”

Last month, representatives from Norampac received an extension for a property layout tied to the expansion site. Following a meeting, Norampac attorney Marc Romanowski indicated that request for an extension was necessary because the company had not yet been able to come to terms on the Little League parcel which it wants to turn into parking spaces. At the time, Romanowski said only that the negotiations were ongoing.

On Friday, Romanowski referred questions on the matter to Norampac communications director Genevieve Boyer who declined to comment.

Norampac’s new facility would be home to the largest containerboard production machine of its kind. The company has received a hefty package of local and state incentives to move the project forward. Company officials had hoped to have the plant built and open by early 2013.

 Mayor Paul Dyster said the company has offered a package worth about $700,000 to the Little League that includes provisions for a new and improved baseball facility on a neighboring parcel, as well as a “substantial” cash subsidy for the league for future years. Dyster said Norampac also has agreed to free the league from any responsibility for issues that might arise as a result of future environmental investigations on the existing site.

“For many months, the city has lent its good offices to both parties, looking for a mutually acceptable solution that would allow the cash-strapped Little League to stay in the neighborhood, build a new facility and get away from what is likely to be a very busy industrial site in the future,” Dyster said. “The offer currently on the table is a very attractive one that I am sure any of the other youth sports organizations in the city would love to have in front of them. Parents need to get involved and make sure the right decision is made. The process has gone on for far longer than the company expected, and it would be a shame if this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity were lost. After all, this is supposed to be about the kids, not the lawyers. Let’s get it done.”

Contact Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.

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