While it might be just another step toward eliminating eyesores in the South End countless residents will concede it’s long over due.

On the border of sovereign land that includes the Seneca Niagara Casino, the City of Niagara Falls has finally posted warnings to owners of four grimy parcels in the 300 block of Niagara Street.

They’re all dirty, vacant structures, monuments to failed urban renewal programs and business owners who don’t care about maintaining their premises.

Most are owned by absentee landlords who obviously thought they would find gold a short walk from a gambling palace. When they realized their investments had little or no potential, they simply walked away. After all, why bother paying taxes, right?

One of those so-called landlords, by the way, was reportedly living in Mexico before moving back to New York state and finally settling in Varysburg.

The properties cited by the Clean Neighborhoods division of the Department of Public Works include the once popular Press Box Restaurant, the former Tops Lunchonette (where gambling was No. 1 on the menu for many years), an old furniture store, some apartments, and the former Harmony Lounge where the new owners had intended to open a Mexican restaurant.

It is clear they never had any intention of developing the sites on their own, setting the stage for the same kind of blight that still plagues Atlantic City two blocks from the famous Boardwalk.

The formal notices posted at the entrance to the Niagara Street properties warns the owners they have 96 days to comply with the order.

It could take that long just to find out where they are living.


FAMILY AFFAIR: The 2009 Wildlife Festival is set for Sept. 26-27 on the grounds of the Niagara Power Vista, Lewiston Road, adjacent to the Niagara University campus.

The State Power Authority and the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs are coordinating the events and displays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including reptiles, primates and birds of prey. More than 50 environmental exhibitors, outdoor educators and wildlife rehabilitators will participate.

Local youth groups will be offering a variety of refreshments.

It’s always a fun time for the entire family.


TAKING A TOLL: The vehicular count at the three international bridges in the Niagara Falls area has dropped dramatically since August 2001, the year when the terrorists struck.

Eight years ago, the number of vehicles crossing the spans was 1,170,237. Last month, the crossings totaled 740,228.


A SHORT DRIVE: A friend in the Southern Tier tells us that Ellicottville, already showing its fine fall attire, will be host this weekend to the Rock ‘n’ Oldies Festival including live outdoor entertainment and a classic car show.

The town’s Fall Festival, which draws tens of thousands every year, is set for Oct. 10-11.


‘MOVE ON!’: Overheard in a Lewiston coffee shop: “The Kiwanians sponsor a wonderful event every year (Peach Festival) but they need to cut down on all the politicians and others who speak after the finalists are selected. Those poor gals had to stand there nearly 20 minutes before the winner was announced.”


ACROSS THE BORDER: A number of local residents have been skeptical about the potential impact of a new passenger train in the city’s North End.

Riding the train is still popular as evident by the business for the fledgling GO Train service operating weekends between Niagara Falls, Ont., and Union Station in Toronto.

On Sunday, the passenger count was 735. On Saturday, 761.

The four round trips (Saturday, Sunday and holidays) from the VIA Station, Bridge Street, will continue through Oct. 12.

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