NIAGARA FALLS —
“I’m not going to let it open up next year without some big changes,” Bradberry said. “I’d rather shut it down than let it run the way it is.”
Antonacci declined to comment about the pedestrian mall. However, Niagara Falls Tourism Board Chairman Jerry Genova came to his defense, saying he believes Antonacci has addressed almost all of the concerns brought forth by Bradberry and other city officials. He added Bradberry’s obsession with the West Mall is “close-minded.”
“I don’t know what the deal is and why he’s fixating on just that,” Genova said. “The West Pedestrian Mall is the least of our worries.”
Genova said he’s looked through Antonacci’s contract with the city and believes all obligations are being met. Further, he said many of the unsightly aspects, such as cracked and collapsing sidewalks, were like that when Antonacci took over the property.
“The city turned it over like this and now they’re saying it looks terrible,” he said.
In particular, the vendors receive power through several generators sitting outside and supported by dollies — a dangerous system that’s been in place for nearly a decade.
“For the city to provide that type of electrical access is atrocious,” Genova said.
And while some city officials are quick to criticize Antonacci, he has invested more than $400,000 in the mall since taking over, Genova said. He’s also been fighting with the city for more than a year to try and add a carrousel to the property as an extra attraction for kids.
“There’s a lot more problems we need to address that don’t involve pointing fingers at the West Mall,” Genova said.
Addressing Main concerns
It’s easy to focus on the boarded up buildings, the failed businesses and lack of pedestrian traffic along the once thriving Main Street.