Niagara Gazette

November 11, 2013

Niagara Falls School District referendum Dec. 4 will allow for sale of several properties

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Voting season in Niagara Falls isn’t quite as finished as residents probably hoped for following last week’s city and county elections.

Next month, the Falls School District is asking permission to sell a number of properties it owns to various buyers and it needs to hold a special election to do it. So voters will be asked to say yes or no from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at their normal voting locations according to this past May’s budget vote.

It’s a move school board President Russell Petrozzi said is necessary to allow some of the purchasing parties enough time to apply for financing for their respective projects.

“(The timing is) because the people buying the buildings are applying for financing for their projects,” he said. “It’s critical that they start getting their applications in now instead of in the summer. The way the application for financing is set up, this is critical for them.”

The district is trying to dispossess a number of properties as part of the plan, including Legends Park, a part of the former sports field at Harry F. Abate Elementary on Portage Road, for $1. Other properties being sold would be 11 properties in the 2900 blocks of Jerauld and North avenues to the city for a total of $1 and both the former administration building in the 600 block of Walnut Avenue and the district’s former warehouse in the 500 block of Sixth Street to Housing Visions Consulting Inc. for $20,000 total.

The largest proposed sale, though, would send the former South Junior building, located at 561 Portage Road, to CB-Emmanuel Realty LLC for $66,000. The purchaser would be required to either renovate or demolish the building if the sale is approved.

“The city’s been taking care of (Legends Park) for a while and provides some recreation opportunities there,” Petrozzi said of the first request. “So we feel it should be the city’s property.”

Otherwise, Petrozzi said, the sale of the property would be a positive for the district. They’ve long stood vacant or underused for a while and, if approved, would get these properties back into use, hopefully.

“I think they’re all good opportunities to utilize these properties,” he said. “Especially South Junior, which would see good improvements. I think they’re good for everybody.”

In the meantime, the district’s school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday for an informational session and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, for its regular monthly meeting. 

Big Red number $86,002 Amount school district will be paid for 15 properties, if approved by voters.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.