A top official in the city administration believes members of county government are concerned about locating a proposed culinary school tied to Niagara County Community College within the city of Niagara Falls.

Some county legislators are reluctant to put the planned Culinary Arts Institute within the city limits, City Administrator Bill Bradberry said Monday during the city’s Tourism Advisory Board meeting.

The project “looks like it’s fading away,” Bradberry said, noting he thinks momentum has begun to lag for the project caused by issues related to project costs as well as location.

Bradberry — who refused to elaborate on who he believes is against locating the institute in the city — said he wants to reinvigorate discussion about the culinary school.

The college is looking to build a facility able to accommodate more than 300 students. It would also include a restaurant with space for 100 customers.

Members of the college’s Board of Trustees have said they are considering sites including two in Niagara Falls, a site in Lewiston as well as another site elsewhere in the county.

Estimated site acquisition costs range from $5.6 million to $11.7 million due to space requirements for the planned facility and the available parcel sizes in the target areas.

College officials have not selected a funding strategy, and could make their site choice when they meet later this month.

County Legislator Jason Murgia, D-Niagara Falls, said those concerned about the project should be asking questions about how the facility would be funded rather than taking on the site selection issue.

Murgia said his “fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers” has caused him to focus his attention on the funding aspects of the project. He said he and his colleagues realize putting the school in the Falls is a “no-brainer.”

“If it’s going to go anywhere, it’s probably going to be in my district,” he said. “And I would love to see it in the city of Niagara Falls.”

Murgia, who caucuses with the Republican majority in the Legislature, would not say whether he knows of any legislator who is hesitant about putting the culinary school in the Falls.

Legislature Chairman Clyde Burmaster also said he knows nothing about any reluctance on the part of county lawmakers. He said he has heard several arguments raised by various individuals about where the culinary institute should be located.

Some have argued against locating the school off-campus because of expenditures by the college to improve facilities for the culinary program at its existing location, Burmaster said.

Bradberry may have talked to one or two lawmakers, but he doesn’t know who they might be, Burmaster added.

Joan Wolfgang, chairwoman of the college’s Board of Trustees, took issue with Bradberry’s statement the project is “fading away.”

“It’s a rather large undertaking,” Wolfgang said. Board members are still considering site options, she said, and will start working on the funding once a choice for the site is made.

“Once you have a site, then things start to come together,” she said. The financing arm of the project will be heaviy determined by which site is chosen, she added.

Board members don’t want to rush to a decision and make a mistake along the way, Wolfgang said, adding legislators have said nothing to board members.

“This is not political, at least we’re trying to make it not,” she said. “We’re trying to make it something really special.”

College President James Klyczek said he could understand if there is a public perception that the momentum for the project has slowed.

Still, he insists the board is engaged in serious deliberations as part of a long-term planning process. They are working to make sure the project isn’t put in the wrong place, he said.

The culinary school is “still very viable,” he added.

Klyczek also said he couldn’t speak for any county legislators who may not want the culinary school in the Falls, though he did acknowledge the role of politics on the board. Part of the board is appointed by the county Legislature while the governor appoints a portion of trustees.

Board members have worked hard to keep the process apolitical, he said.

“To say politics are totally absent would be wrong,” he said. “But we’ve worked hard to get support wherever we can find it.”

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