By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls City Council will be asked to approve the extension of a contract with the company that has been clearing vacant lots in the city in recent years.
Mayor Paul Dyster’s administration is asking the council to allow for a one year extension to the city’s contract with Niagara Grass Cutting at a cost of $50,000.
Dyster said the city’s Department of Public Works does not have the manpower or equipment to handle the more than 600 vacant lots around the city.
“It’s of particular concern because, through the foreclosure process, the city owns increasing numbers of vacant lots,” Dyster said.
The city is working with ReNU Niagara, Niagara University’s community outreach arm, to come up with creative uses for vacant lots, but that will not eliminate the problems caused by overgrown vacant spaces, Dyster said.
“If we’re going to go out and enforce regulations on things like cutting the lawn and controlling litter on vacant lots with speculator owners from out of town we better be taking care of the lots that we ourselves own,” he said.
The money will be transferred from a special security account used to fund security guard contracts for city parking garages.
Councilman Sam Fruscione said the resolution will likely be passed, calling it a “no-brainer.”
“We’d rather make sure the grass is cut than have too much security,” he said.
The special security line in the budget that passed last fall had an excess of available funds, Fruscione said.
Providing basic city services is a top priority for the council, he added.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do.”Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257