1/28/2010

Flintkote and Dussault

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported that city is debating taking over the old Dussault Foundry site if it can obtain a grant for the final cleanup and the LUSJ reported the $22 million dollar cleanup of the old Flintkote Factory and surrounding area is moving forward (DEC webpage).

As the old industrial sites are removed from along the creek, it would be nice to see a green way planned from Upson Park on the canal over to the Rolin Grant Wilderness Park down the steam. It would need to be nothing more than an extension of the hiking trails.

As for the Dussault site, the views off of a cleared escarpment would be beautiful. Although costing money, some type of development on this parcel and along Wasburn up to East Ave would be nice to see some day. Is the YMCA ready to change their plans and stay DT yet? ;)

1/24/2010

Chapel at the Palace

Posted by MJ



 The Buffalo News reported that Alderman Chapman announced that the Chapel at Crosspoint will be having satellite services at the Palace starting on Easter.They will also be leasing 6,000 sqft of space at the Old Post Office across the street.

The Chapel at CrossPoint, the Amherst mega-church, will begin holding branch services in Lockport on April 4, Easter Sunday. Alderman Andrew D. Chapman, a member of the church, announced the arrangement at Wednesday’s Common Council meeting, and details were confirmed Thursday by the Rev. Matt Eisenhower, the pastor who will be assigned to Lockport.

Eisenhower said The Chapel will hold services Sunday mornings in the Palace Theatre, 2 East Ave., and also will lease about 6,000 square feet of space in the old post office across the street.
Eisenhower said that space will be used for administrative offices and for the church’s supplemental ministries, such as special programs targeted for men, women and children....
UPDATE 01-27-10:
LUSJ reported on the topic. They mention the important point of state liquor laws pertaing to location of establishments in regard to churches and the effect this can have DT in the future. Dissusion in the comments below.

1/24/2010

Vying for Fire Dispatch

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reporting that both the LPD and the County sheriff's office both want the fire dispatch.

Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert urged the Common Council last week to turn Fire Department dispatching duties over to the Police Department. “For you to hand it to us now would be extremely simple. We could do it tomorrow,” Eggert said Wednesday. “I’m kind of hoping you give it to us. It’s easy. . . . We could do it for no cost.”
But Niagara County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Beatty said much the same thing Friday, adding that the city would not be charged for dispatching services. “The phone connection we put in a couple of years ago, waiting to see how the legal thing came out, we’ve been maintaining at our cost,” Beatty said...

Two agencies vying for more work at no costs?

1/21/2010

"Moral" Concert Objection?

Posted by MJ

LUSJ and The Buffalo News reported that Alderman Chapman (R-4th Ward) asked to delay the extension of the concert series contract because he found some information online about Mrs. Paradowski and a gentleman's club.

Fourth Ward Alderman Andy Chapman cast one of two “no” votes to protest the city doing business with someone whom he claims “exploits women.”
He referred to series promoter Kathy Paradowski, who through her husband Joseph’s not-for-profit Canal Concert Series Inc. recruits the bands and manages food and drink vending at the weekly free shows. Kathy Paradowski personally also is listed, in state business records, as the CEO of Colonie Lounge Inc., a Buffalo-based gentleman’s club....“I wouldn’t spend (tax) money with someone who exploits women,” Chapman said. “My vote is based on a moral stance.”

Chapman is misjudging her, Paradowski responded in a late Wednesday telephone interview.
Paradowski said she has a less than 20 percent ownership interest in the Colonie Lounge, dating back to 1996, and is not involved with the club management.
-------

Chapman said he unearthed Paradowski’s ownership of the Colonie Lounge on Hertel Avenue through Internet research. “I think people will be blown away when they find out,” he said, vowing to “dig into everything I’m going to vote on.”
While I respect Chapman's effort to research the items he is voting on (as all members should), I question the basis for this objection. Nothing illegal is being done by Paradowski. Does anyone here feel "blown away" by the information? I do not see the reason to threaten a sucessful downtown event because of some "moral" obligations over a small connection to a legal activity happening in Buffalo.

We already have a morality group on the corner of Main and Market during the shows letting us know that attending the Devil's Rock-n-Roll shows is threatening our afterlife. ;)

Keep up the reseach Mr. Chapman. As I have mentioned, it is a plus. As my alderman, I just ask for a little more secular reasoning during the votes: especially an event of this magnitude. These shows are not easy to promote. Look at the effort in Tonawanda to recover from losing this series.

1/20/2010

State of the City 2010

Posted by MJ

LUSJ has reported on  Mayor Tucker's 2010 State of the City Address.

 
The most substantive goal he’s setting for the year is total city charter review, by the mayor’s dormant Citizen Advisory Board, he told members of Lockport Rotary Club during his annual State of the City address Tuesday at Lockport Town & Country Club.
Tucker also called for updating of the city’s master plan, zoning and planning ordinances.
“Some of our current provisions are over 100 years old and simply outdated and unrealistic to address the challenges of today,” he said. “These are not easy tasks, they are time consuming and difficult, but necessary to adequately prepare our city for the decades ahead.

 
Personally, I find the zoning/planning ordinances and City Master Plan the most interesting and important. Ultimately these are what shape the environment that we live in. Current number based zoning (for example, no more than 40% lot coverage, 5% green space, 2:1 parking, etc) can give you the Lockport Plaza on S Transit or the Ulrich City Center from the same zoning codes. I wouldn't be surprised if the UCC had required variances to actually allow it to get built to the sidewalk. The last master plan done in the late 90's spec'd out development like UCC (hidden parking, street pedestrian friendly, creating a sense of place, etc. Most likely codes (or the plan itself) were never updated/enacted to make sure it happens. So we continue to get car-centric suburban develops DT like Family Video. Look to Hertel Ave in Buffalo to see a Family Video built on a corner. Look deeper and you will see they built it on an existing foundation to circumvent un-urban zoning that would have left it looking like a Wilson Farms. I really hope this goal goes somewhere and that some type of form based coding is introduced.

Other goals that Tucker listed for 2010, in pursuit of what he called improved “customer service” by the city, include:
• Enhancing the city’s Web site, elockport.com, to allow “live” hot-line reporting of residents’ non-emergency concerns, such as potholes, trash and tree-trimming issues.
This should work both ways. Residents should be able to see a list of registered complaints and their resolution along with date. Great feed back we could use to casually audit our government.
• Setting up City Hall to accept online and credit-card payment of property tax and water bills.
I say about time! I was surprised to go pay the water bill with the debit card only to see the "cash only" sign. This way I can even save the trip.
• Continued attention to quality-of-life issues, including parks maintenance and youth and senior citizen outreach.
With the sucess seen in gardening, ice pads, and general upkeep the city should establish a clear plan for the implimentation of volunteer efforts in the park system. The Olmsted Conservency has has great success in Buffalo. I don't suppose we'd have a group that large, but willing citizens should be able to more easily help out our parks.
• Landing a “cost effective” citywide curbside recycling program for residents “In a reasonable period of time.”
I'd be happy to see an integrated private garbage and recycling sytem. Use the freed up city workers to address other concerns around the city.
Seeing renovation of the Flight of Five canal locks to completion remains Tucker’s No. 1 priority, he said, but some big-ticket aspirations he’s identified in previous annual addresses — including reconstruction of the municipal parking garage at Main and Pine streets — are taking a back seat to fiscal reality. Tucker pledged to continue pursuing grant funding for a $10 million parking garage makeover but did not commit to a project on anything other than a someday basis.

 These are items too big to coment on in this post. Feel free to search older related posts on these two topics.

1/16/2010

Outerwater Ice Rink Rebirth

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reporting that volunteers are trying to revive the ice skating pad at Outwater Park.

Naturally, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, but volunteers are still trying to get an ice skating rink ready for use by Monday at Outwater Park.

Associates of the Lockport Little Loop Football league have been on the scene daily this week, spraying water in thin layers, letting it freeze and hoping it stays cold and dry enough to make ice.

A group organized by youth football coach Steve Porack cleared the snow off an old, designated ice skating area in Outwater about a week ago, then asked the city’s permission to fill the grassy depression. Initially there was a concern about turning city work over to volunteers, Mayor Michael Tucker said, but unionized parks employees signaled they’re fine with that. In fact, the department got water hoses hooked up for Porack to do the spraying...

Another example of people going out of their way to make the city better for all us. Weather around here can be frustrating with the slight warm ups ruining the snow and ice that make the cold weather fun. I wish them luck and for a return to 31°.

Anybody have good suggestions for winter fun in Lockport?

1/16/2010

No Federal Funding for HV for Now

Posted by MJ



Image - Empty Property on Genessee St.

LUSJ reported that Housing Visions was not approved for funding in the latest round of funding.

Housing Visions Inc. has shelved its plans for Lockport Canal Homes at Genesee and Locust streets, after learning it won’t obtain a federal grant to undertake the $9 million low-income-housing rehabilitation project.

Officials of the Syracuse-based not-for-profit agency found out Thursday that Housing Visions will not receive a requested share of Neighborhood Stabilization Program economic stimulus funding awarded in New York state by the federal government.

Housing Visions sought $2 million in NSP funds, the amount it’s coming up short in a bid to acquire and rehabilitate 15 parcels in the Genesee-Locust area....
 As for now funding won't be sought again next year. The hope is that the markets will turn around in 2011.

"Since the stock market crashed in the fall of 2008, however, the value of the tax credits is seriously diminished.

...We’ve gotten up to 94 cents on the dollar (when selling the credits). The latest quote we received was 66 cents. That’s a huge difference,” LaFlair said. “We spent all of Thursday crunching the (Lockport) numbers, looking at how we could scale back the project ... . It still wouldn’t work.”

LaFlair started contacting local property owners Friday to tell them Housing Visions is backing out of their deals. Private property owners already received down payments, which they’ll keep. The agency deciding it won’t apply for 2010 housing tax credits is a contractual deal-breaker.

Hopefully Housing Visions can line up other funding, and/or the credit market will rebound, in time for the agency to get in line for 2011 housing tax credits, LaFlair said. The agency will stay in touch with the city and residents in the meantime, he added. It has already invested $125,000 in planning a rescue project and is treating the lack of financing as a temporary setback only."....
Projects in NYS received $36 million in funds.

Of the federal stimulus funding announced Thursday, grants are going to specific housing recovery projects in every state. Housing Visions filed a joint, $20 million application with several other upstate-based not-for-profit agencies. New York applicants landed a combined $36 million in grants; the lion’s share is going to New York City and Habitat For Humanity International.
As mentioned in the last post on the topic, these are main avenues for low income housing projects in our country at this time. Complain about the system as you will but $36 million was spent with $0 dollars coming to Lockport. Tax dollars in this system are flowing this year.  Just none of the $2 million requested for Lockport will appear. Hopefully they can find some success in 2011.

In the mean time there are many other avenues that the city can explore. They won't be as  immediately noticeable as this project would have been but that does not mean that they should not be pursued.

UPDATE 01-16-2010:
The Buffalo News has their report with some more information.

1/15/2010

LFD Going for Accreditation

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported that the LPD is getting a bunch of new toys and reorganizing to obtain to become a New York State Accredited Department to help it get more state aid, be less liable in a law suit and to just do a better job.

Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert is pulling out all the stops to get the state’s special stamp of approval in 2010.
New cruisers, new technology and more training are in the works this year as the department gears up to become what is called a New York State Accredited Department.
“We want our officers to be the best they can in the field,” Eggert said.
The new designation will help the department get state funds and will strengthen its position in any legal challenges it may face.

These may be some of their last Crown Victorias as Ford is soon to end production in 2011. Good for some advancement in gas mileage, safety etc but bad for swapping over parts.

“This is a one-year, labor-intensive process for us,” Eggert said. “We need everything approved, from the chair we sit in, to our evidence room.”
In regards to the chair, I sincerely hope not unless there is some grand reason to spend time on items like that.

Abbott said the old Ford Crown Victoria patrol vehicles are gas guzzlers.
“They only get about 7 miles to the gallon,” Abbott said. “They’re usually in idle for so long through the day that it brings down the car’s MPGs.”
 
To save a little gas, how about turning off the car and walking the beat for 15-20 minutes an hour? Police cars are great for reactionary measures but are not a preventative measure. Nothing beats an officer slowly walking through the area learning about it and observing what's going on. It's rather difficult to do driving past at 35 mph. Areas like Genessee St would benefit from soem form of it.

And the post can not be ended without a thank you for the job they perform for us.

1/15/2010

City Term Limits?

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported on the term limit discussion brought about by Fourth Ward Alderman Andrew D. Chapman:

Fourth Ward Alderman Andrew D. Chapman broached the topic during the Council’s weekly work session. He’s seeking support for a measure to impose a limit of two consecutive four-year terms for the mayor and three consecutive two-year terms for aldermen.

Chapman argued term limits would be “good for the city” because they’d encourage more “ordinary” people to pursue elective offices.

 I do find term limits interesting and maybe even needed on the state and national level since a lot of the representatives are far removed from their constituents and the cost of running is so high. On a local level such as a small city like Lockport, I find the current 2-year terms for the council a good enough check and balance without unnecessarily closing out a good one or two. You could easily walk to any of their houses, call their home phone or approach them at any number of meetings. Though I suppose there are some out there that would submit that there are no "good ones." ;)

The Buffalo News reported that a public hearing session has passed and will be scheduled at next week's session.

1/07/2010

Snow Removal

Posted by MJ

Well the endless snow fall has finally given it a rest. The LFD is asking us to pitch in to clear hydrants (its the water authority's responsibility). The LPD is reminding us to think of our neighbors by clearing our sidewalks. And a reminder from last year on how the city goes about plowing the streets.

My block was pretty good on both the sidewalk and streets. I heard the plows going by at night more times than I pry would have liked and I had no problem walking around the neighborhood several different times except for one property where the structures were removed last year. Most of my neighbors are good at helping each other out by alternately snow blowing or shoveling past their own property line. My thanks to those who I don't get to do so personally.

Enjoy the snow while its here. It'll be gone in a few months ;)

1/07/2010

Jim's Steakout Coming

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported.

A popular hoagie shop will be opening the doors of its newest location this month in Lockport.


Jim’s Steakout has a target date of Jan. 18 when it’ll open its 10th location at 5774 South Transit Road. Dennis Van Patten, who owns the Lockport shop, said Jim’s Steakout will bring something a little different to its Lockport customers. That includes its famous hoagies with Jim’s special sauce and chicken finger submarine sandwiches...
It is always nice to have a new choice in the area especially when it has WNY roots. It would have been nice to have it in a more urban location similar to their original location on Elmwood in Buffalo. One could imagine setting up shop on Main St (in the closing YWCA in the UCC?)? Something about Jim's says urban and it's weird to see them in plazas.

1/06/2010

Planning Board OK's HV

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and LUSJ reported.

...The city is negotiating a 20-year tax break for the makeover of the Genesee Street neighborhood by Housing Visions, a Syracuse-based not-for-profit, it was revealed Monday.
Meanwhile, despite some misgivings regarding parking and design, the city Planning Board approved a community center for the project.
Housing Visions has purchase agreements for a collection of rundown properties on Genesee and Locust streets. It seeks state approval to sell income tax credits to a private investor to obtain money to finance the $8.5 million in purchases, demolition, renovation and new construction...
Ben Lockwood, Housing Visions’ director of development, said the tax break would bring the city about as much in taxes as the undervalued buildings produce now. Mayor Michael W. Tucker said it might be a little more, although neither man could come up with the exact figures. 
I have no problem with these tax breaks as long as the city offered anyone else looking to invest in the street the same benefits. Buy a house, commit to invest a certain amount, and your assessment will be frozen for 10 years or so. This Housing Visions project is a nice start but a larger plan for the street and surrounding area needs to be in place.

In related news, an information session is scheduled for this Friday (01/08/10) at First Baptist Church, corner of Genesee and Pine, starting at 6pm.

1/06/2010

Garbage 2.0

Posted by MJ

The debate begins again with Garbage 2.0. We shall she what a new year with a new council makeup and new union rules gives us. The Buffalo News and the LUSJ reported on the first committee meeting.

The committee is back together after a several-month hiatus, begun when the Common Council cut proposed funding for recycling service out of the 2010 city budget. The proposal at the time, hiring Modern Recycling to handle recyclables only, while city crews continued handling trash disposal, was considered unaffordable. The Council cut proposed funding to reduce the size of the property tax increase that it was eyeing.

Since then, the city struck a deal with its AFSCME workers, allowing it to privatize refuse collection services entirely. On the belief recycling should be more affordable if it’s bundled with trash collection by one vendor, price-checking that option will be one of the committee’s tasks this year, Tucker said.

The committee also is charged with examining the garbage “district” concept, in which all users pay a fee for service rather than collection being financed from property taxes.

 I'd be in for the district with the choice in tote size and price. I'd expect to see the deletion in the budget though. Long term it will be nice to move a section of the budget off the city employee payroll.

To have some immediate impact for the better, committee chairman Jeff Tracy suggested, the city ought to have a Web site devoted to local refuse dos and don’ts. He suggested “lockportgarbage.com” as a place where residents can turn to know what they can and can’t do under current law; and learn more about current recycling options. 
 There is already a website called www.elockport.com . All relevant information should be there. Not just FAQ's like garbage but documents for public meetings (zoning and planning boards, law changes, etc.) If it is in the public interest, it should be there.

1/03/2010

LFD Contract Ratified

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported :

The Lockport Professional Firefighters Association and the City of Lockport have agreed to move dispatching duties away from the fire department and reduce the minimum staffing level. In return, firefighters will receive a one-time $1,000 bonus, a 4-percent retroactive pay raise for 2009, and 2-percent raises every six months starting today and running through 2012....
...Under the new contract, the city can keep a minimum staffing level of nine firefighters per platoon, per shift and a maximum of three on vacation at one time. The previous level was 10 firefighters per platoon, per shift with a maximum of four on vacation at one time...
Would anyone here not be happy with a guaranteed 4% raise a year in our current economy?In return the city gets help on the overbearing overtime. It is nice to see that vacationers alone can no longer require overtime to be initiated. The minimum shift manning is now set at nine though I recall quotes saying that the city was hesitant to put a number in the contract. Maybe that's part of the trade off.