By Sam Fruscione
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls City Council is contemplating passage of a city ordinance which will address a wide variety of nuisance activity that has been on the increase over the past couple of years in our business districts.
This ordinance — Chapter 737 Property and Building Nuisance Reform — is going to zero in on troublesome behavior around business establishments such as loitering, littering, noise, public drinking, drug use and sale, lewdness and so on. If necessary, and depending upon how many and how serious the violations are, the offending business could be closed.
These activities have been on the increase, the council members have been receiving numerous complaints in this regard, and we’re going to work to make this ordinance law at Tuesday’s council meeting.
This isn’t the first city ordinance the council has written or modified in order to address what must be described as undesirable activity in and around our business districts. Last year we amended two city ordinances in order to deal with the proliferation of pawn shops and secondhand dealers in Niagara Falls.
Pawn shops and similar businesses suddenly locating throughout the business districts of any city aren’t considered a good sign. The increase of these businesses in Niagara Falls is a clear indicator of our struggling local economy. In response, some thoughtful ordinance modification had to be carried out to address the circumstances.
Earlier this year the council provided additional funds to our police department in order to expand patrols in the tourism corridor and put walking patrols in various areas of the city. I’m sure you’ve noticed police officers walking Pine Avenue and other main streets including some streets in our LaSalle neighborhood.
Studies and common sense tell us that a highly visible police presence deters crime. Criminals don’t generally practice their trade under the watchful eye of law enforcement. Undercover and unmarked police work moves ahead as usual, but we will also continue to put officers in plain sight because it deters crime and provides a real sense of security for our residents.
All of the above — appropriate ordinances affecting public safety and visible policing — address the quality of life in our community. To this we can add the ever increasing need for our city to develop a long-range plan to deal with dilapidated buildings.
Last May my fellow councilman Bob Anderson and I presented an editorial in which we reported on the critical need for the city to develop a long-range demolition plan. Our editorial called for the detailed cataloging of buildings requiring takedown along with the development of a funding plan to make the demolitions happen. The funding is not an easy lift but the comprehensive cataloging should be done so we understand what we’re up against. Some buildings can be saved, most must come down and some are in between. Let’s get it all down in writing as a feasible action plan without studying it to death in the meantime.
Our city government can work to improve the city’s quality of life by effectively dealing with specific problem areas. I am confident that the proposed ordinance addressing nuisance activity will yield positive results.Sam Fruscione is a member of the Niagara Falls City Council.