That's Outrageous!

Posted by MJ

In light of last fall's city budget, this spring's school and state budgets and all the discussions in between I cross post this editorial cartoon by John Sherffius of the Boulder (Colorado) Daily Camera:

The only one missing is the "Layoff Government Employees" - "It must be personal".


Chapman on the LFD

Posted by MJ

Below is letter to you: the blog readers of Lockport regarding the Fire Task Force that he created. The hope is for constructive discussion on systems etc that will be financially and performance stable in the years to come. Please comment below (or e-mail Chapman directly) on systems you may have knowlege of from other places you have lived, ones you have read about or even ones you have thought up on your own. Or maybe you are comfortable with the furture cost projections and tax burdens, if so, let that be known too. Please do not troll. Keep comments respectful and on topic.

I can use some help from your bloggers...

Ask yourself the following questions:
Will the State continue to allocate Lockport the same amount of funds it has currently allocated or might they reduce their allocation to Lockport?
Based upon the current trends; are the CItizens willing to allow for a 50% increase in taxes to sustain the Fire Department over the next 10 years?

I have been accused of picking on the Fire Department, we have multiple issues within multiple departments.  As time allows, I  would prefer to research all the departments; however, from a percentage of the budget basis, the Fire Department represents the greatest expense to the City.  I am hopeful that the analysis template that is being created will be a cost effective / efficient mechanism for the discovery process and will be applied to other departments in the future.  We cannot afford consultants, the city is blessed with a large group of dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate people that are willing to give up their time for a worthy cause.  A task force of citizens that represents a good cross section has been assembled.   

Our process is simple:  

Establish a baseline that represents a "Good Fire Department" .  Every aspect of this baseline must be quantifiable and documented accordingly.  We are just now establishing the categories that will be included within the baseline. Examples may be ISO rating, response time, cost per incident, % $ lost per incident, average training, # incidences for workers' compensation, $ for workers' compensation, etc. etc... 

Apply "Good Fire Department" baseline criteria to a select group of focus cities.  The focus cities were chosen not randomly but by analysis of similar demographics, economic decline, square milage footprint etc.etc...  Additionally, we will focus on ten other paid Fire Departments that closely reflect similar characteristics as those of LFD.

A weighed matrix depicting our results should clearly indicate what represents a "Good Fire Department".  We will then create a strategy to see (if necessary) how we may emulate and apply our findings to LFD. 

We will research how others have transitioned their departments, consolidated services, found cost savings. 

Our goal is to make (if necessary) a well informed, factual determination, on the future of how Our City will be protected for both Fire and Emergency Medical Services. 

Previously, I stated publicly and <here> the following: 

Create a long-term strategy to transition our Fire Department into a “Hybrid Department” with the intent of employing paid Administration, Drivers and Ambulance  / EMT Professionals, while augmenting additional personnel needs by establishing a volunteer force.

I was wrong in my approach and quite possibly wrong in this plausible solution.  Where were my facts? What research supported my opinion?  Again, I was wrong.  Which allows me to conclude that we must research this thoroughly, without bias, and personal gain/motivations, in an all inclusive environment that promotes a creative approach to a very difficult challenge.   

Some may say, "It may be best to allow the financial trends to fulfill their destiny through 2021".  I don't believe that to be the proper course of action. 

Please, Bloggers be creative, research and be knowledgeable, we all want what is best for the City.  We all may have a different opinion on what is best.  Again, please help this task force reach some conclusions in what is best for us all. 

Thank you,

Andrew Chapman


Cafe Karma

Posted by LoneWolf


For those of you that MAY NOT have noticed... ( it wasn't published in the LSJ as far as I can see)

Daily Grind Coffee Shop  is no longer existant .. It is now known as Cafe Karma..

As of ABOUT 1- 2  weeks ago it was aquired by a local business owner.

I had the urge to go out at arouund 7 or 8 pm last night ( Tuesday)  for  cup of cofee.. and some good music .. and was not disappionted..

John and Dennis as well as the other gentleman( I forget the name right now) who was doing the cooking were every cordial to all the customers that visited. Many of whom were regualrs  when it was "Daily Grind".

As of right now, they specialze in mostly Coffee, Salads and Panini sandwiches.  Unlike Tom(which mind you I am not knocking Tom for what he tried to do)   who did a bit of a pick and mix of sandwiches and wraps.

From talking whth Jon(owner) and Dennis(business partner) asking if they would be willing to expand thier menu.. they said " Yes definately, we will see what the people want".

Hours of operation: As of right now.. for the winter time ..  8:30 am till 9pm Monday to Friday.
 After the winter(this comes dirtectly from the owners) when the tourism season  'kicks in'  they will be open every day with varying time frames.( I will update with new info when it becomes available)

Prices(according to the menu) : Cheapest item is $1.00 for a can of soda  all the way  to $6.49  for a Panini Sandwich  with meat. Not bad for a quick lunch.

 Daily soups and possibily sandwich specials are offered.
 It is HIGHLY suggested to call for these(Tried one of thier soup specials last night,  which was a shrimp and corn bisque(chowder) it was really good))

Contact information : (716) 439-0929

They also offer delivery with a MINIMUM  $20.00 order

"Events" that happen at Cafe Karma:

Tuesday and Friday Night : Open Mic Night

Thursday Night(if remebering corectly):  Tarot Card readings for $25(if memeory serves from 6pm-9pm)

I will update more specifics as information becomes avialable.

Personal opinon:   I am IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM  ...saying this in a bad way at all..  but .. I hope John ad Dennis  make a "go" of this  ... IN the 13 years that I have been in Lockport I have seen AT LEAST  4 businesses come in and out of that particular spot.. .

They have a good attitude toward thier customers and will do what they can to make thier customers happy.

I wish John and Dennis  all the best of luck in thier endeavors  and wiil partonize them and I WILL send people thier way while waitng for or or after cave tours.

Enjoy your coffee and Sandwiches at Cafe Karma.



Lockport Exchange Club Circus

Posted by LoneWolf

Greetings all~

Many of you that are long time Lockportians are aware of the end of February performance of the Lockport Exchange Club Circus.. or more locally known as "The Greatest Little Show on Earth".

This event will take place at the Keenan Center Arena on Locust Street.

This will also be the 51st year of the Circus Taking place in Lockport. Originally it took place at the Amory on Willow Street..

Dates and times (according to the Keenan Center website): Friday Feb 25th at 7pm and Saturday the 26th at 1pm and 4pm.

Price( as reported by WKBW -TV website): Adults $5 Children $3.

Proceeds to benefit the Lockport Exchange Club.

Each show lasts generally about 2 hours.

Additional Info:
This show is and has been performed by a dedicated group (approximately 60 total) of people who 100% voulenteer thier time from the clowns(from Niagara Clown Alley and the Exchange Club) that perform to the stage crew that helps to setup and change "sets" for the show.

The people involved also include the extra performers (Magicians, acrobats, ect) that help out with the performace as well. In years past they have had the The Lockport Flips,USA Self Defence Center,Nels Cremean(juggler), Flippin Out Extreme Trampoline Arieal Act(these guys were AWESOME last year and they ARE comming back this year just talked with their manager and as of right now they are comming unless something happening batween now and friday ). And that is just naming a few of the "outside" acts.

As to who exactly is showing up this year as "outside" acts  im not 100% as of yet , ill have more info on that after Thursday evening when we do setup.

So as they say "Come One, Come All, to the Greatest Little Show on Earth".(or at least in Lockport :) )

I'll definately be there as part of the stage crew helping out.

Enjoy :)


2-17-11 Fire Task Force Mtg.

Posted by MJ

Here is the agenda for tonight's initial meeting of the Fire Task Force talked about ealier this week here: Fire Task Force.


No Smoking. Just Kidding.

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported that the town has decided to install "No Smoking" signs at Day Rd Park even though they didn't go as far as making it illegal.
"No smoking" signs will be posted around the playground in Day Road Park, but the Town Board declined Wednesday to officially declare the playground a smoke-free zone...
Is it even legal to post that something is illegal when it's not?  I can think of numerous signs to post with the hope that people will assume it's illegal.


Trek to Canal St.

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and the LUSJ have both reported on the GLDC deal with Trek Inc of Medina to occupy the top two floors of 57 Canal St.

A Medina company will be moving some of its employees to Lockport, as it leases the second and third floors of the largest building on Canal Street.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Wednesday that Trek Inc. will pay $90,000 a year, or $7.50 per square foot, for the top two stories of 57 Canal St.
Also, the city will be selling the smallest building on the block, 79-81 Canal St., to Lockport Cave for $70,000 as a new headquarters for the seasonal tourist attraction.

Trek, founded in Medina in 1968, is expanding its production facilities and needed someplace to move its engineering, and research and development departments, said Cindy Coons, company human resources manager....
The price is cheap but it will cover the build out and after 4 years it will still be completed viable space if Trek decides to not renew the lease. Could be a kick start if bigger plans are put into place.  It is nice to see that they wisely kept the 1st floor free for a business to generate foot traffic (even thought the facade isn't designed for it). The street will need some infill and the street opened to traffic if any sustained foot traffic and street life are desired.

A second article by the LUSJ on the deal and another about a local connection to the Verison project underscore the positives that can be gained from the "negatives" of the area's children moving away for better opportunities. Instill in them a love for their hometown, etc and someday they could return with opportunities.


Property Tax Cap

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News posted a quick overview of the proposed property tax cap:

For all the talk about the property tax cap that seems headed our way, something has been kind of lost in the hubbub. The details...
...- A district's tax levy increase would be capped at 2 percent or the annual increase in the consumer price index, whichever is less.
- There is a way for schools to exceed the cap. If a district proposes a budget that exceeds the tax cap, the district would need 60 percent approval of the budget, rather than the standard 50 percent.
- If a budget fails to get voter approval, the district would have to submit a revised budget subject to a public vote on the third Tuesday in June. If this revised budget exceeds the tax cap, it would require approval by 60 percent of those voting.
- If the revised budget fails to get voter approval, the district would have to adopt a budget with no tax levy increase...
The article is dead on on one point: THE DETAILS. This affects almost every conversation out there. there needs to be easier access to public documents. In this internet access age, there should be no excuses to providing them for anyone to download and read.

But back on track....The Buffalo News also ran an article (editorial) a few weeks back on how the cap has affected Taxachuetts over the past 30 years.

Something happens as the green "Welcome to New York" sign fades in the rearview mirror when you cross into Massachusetts: Taxes go down.
They are lower on clothing purchases. On gasoline, on furniture, on alcohol and on a range of goods and services. On businesses. And personal income is taxed at a lower rate.
But, most noticeably, property taxes are lower.
As a result of a 30-year-old law limiting their annual growth -- the kind of plan under debate in the New York State Capitol -- sharply rising property taxes no longer dominate kitchen table discussions in Massachusetts...


Fire Task Force

Posted by MJ

The LUSJ reported that 4-th Ward Alderman Chapman has chosen the panel for his fire task force:

Eight city residents have been named to a task force being formed by 4th Ward Alderman Andrew Chapman to study possible alternatives to a full-time, paid, professional fire department...
...The task force’s first meeting will be held Feb. 17 at City Hall. Chapman said he hopes to be able to arrange twice-monthly meetings on Thursday nights for up to five months or so...

...The task force’s mission, as he envisioned it, is to asses the long-term costs of a paid-professional fire department and alternative service models. The volunteers will look at the pros and cons, costs and benefits of status-quo firefighting operations versus alternatives in place around New York state, including “hybrid” and all-volunteer operations, and present its findings to the Common Council later this year....
This information gathering task is worthwhile as it will hopefully give us some firm data on which we can discuss the issue. I value the full time paid force though I believe it could most likey be done with less man power depending on the number of calls that are currently recieved. This was discussed here during the budget process last fall


Youth Dept. Staff Cuts

Posted by MJ

The LUSJ reported last week that the youth department will need to cut the number of parks hosting the summer youth programs from 8 to four with one park left in each quadrant of the city:

Summertime youth and recreation staffing will be limited to four city parks this year.

The parks are likely to be Altro, Outwater, Dolan and Rogers Avenue parks, roughly hitting the four quadrants of the city, Youth Bureau Executive Director Melissa Junke told the resident-led Youth Board on Tuesday.

The city’s eight-week, admission-free summertime program for kids is being reduced from eight parks due to a staff funding cut in the 2011 budget...
...“We’ll have the same program, pretty much, as we’ve had all these years, but in fewer places. It’ll be an adjustment for the kids,” Junke said...
The changes are proposed in response to the city’s 50 percent cut in playground recreation staff funding this year. Junke had authority to hire 30 rec leaders last year and can only hire up to 15 this year. Each park has to be staffed by a minimum of two rec leaders, per pending state legislation regarding staffing of youth programs and facilities, Junke said; and better attended parks demand more staffing.


Housing Visions Update/Info

Posted by MJ

The only subject as popular as the concerts and the sports complex is back in the news. The Buffalo News reported that the current iteration of the community initiated Housing Visions plan for the Pine/Genessee area has taken a step forward in the funding process:
The Syracuse not-for-profit agency that plans an extreme makeover of a blighted Lockport neighborhood has been approved for more than $1 million in state funding, Alderman Jack L. Smith Jr. announced Wednesday.
Housing Visions received the money from a state homeless housing assistance program, which was passing on federal funding.
Smith, D-2nd Ward, said the approval probably resulted in large part from an early application and the partnership of the YWCA of Niagara, which intends to use some of the new housing for victims of domestic violence.
They announced their application for the $1.1 million interest-free state loan last August...
Here are some renderings/floor plans/unit details for the project as it stands:

Rendering 84 Locust
Rendering 163 Genesse
Rendering 261 Genesse
Rendering 267 Genesse

Rendering Pine St

Preliminary Plans
Preliminary Data

From a design standpoint it is nice to see that the buildings are unique and compliment the neighborhood architecture.

A miss is the lack of hierarchy in the entry ways. When entries are not differentiated it gives off the look of a multi-unit. When doorways are sized differently and placed in different locations it gives a multi-unit house the look of a single unit. Symmetry is not our friend in this instance.

Here's an example from Waterman St. near Genesee. The structure has three entryways. A larger main one at the left, a secondary one placed slightly smaller and set back at the right and then another at the rear. Three separate entries that could lead to three separate units but scaled and placed to "hide" the multi-unit stigma (not to mention just looking "right").

There will be the excuse of not being able to look "too much" like the existing neighborhood due to state preservation laws but good design is still good design.

Simple tweaks and the house no longer looks fish-eyed:

 $ Dollar Figures of the project were previously discussed here:
Housing Visions Figures


Zoning - Urban Design Manual

Posted by MJ

A lot of conversation happens over zoning requirements, zoning variances, planning board decisions etc. The conversations are usually full of misunderstandings. A lot of it stems from zoning codes that are number based, confusing and based solely off of what some other place did "just because". Even when followed, they do not result in a project we are happy with a majority of the time.

Recently I came across the Urban Design Manual for Collingwood Ontario. A great example of a document that clearly states what the community requires for developments and explains them in words and pictures. Residents can easily understand (and approve) what has been laid out and developers can more easily design to requirements the first time.

Here a couple example slides:
It is a good size document but even skipping to several random pages gives a good feel for it.

Hopefully the new planning position will result in some much needed changes to an outdated half century old code that makes most of the city "illegal" through suburban standards and does more long term damage than good; not to mention the frustration of people appearing before zoning, planning, etc.



Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported last week that there is a group pushing for a Wegman's in Lockport.

...A group of Lockport residents are banding together to entice the well known supermarket chain to Eastern Niagara County. Charlene Bower, chairperson of the We Want Wegmans group, announced Wednesday the campaign had taken its cause online.

Those who support the idea of bringing Wegmans to Lockport can check out the website, www.wewantwegmans.com or find the group’s page on Facebook. While online, people can print out petitions and send them by mail to We Want Wegmans, P.O. Box 256, Lockport, NY, 14095...

I was surprised to see the claimed statistics for the Lockport area:
In a statement, Bower said Wegmans usually considers locations with a population of about 100,000 within a 5 mile radius and an average household income of roughly $75,000. In comparison, Bower said Lockport’s market area has about 127,500 residents in a 10 mile radius with an average household income of $78,700
While that would save me the drive to Amherst every week, Wegman's have said in the past that they are done expanding in WNY. The return on investment is much greater down in Virginia that it would be around here. But while we are dreaming, place them in my mixed use development mentioned here.


Common Council Agenda 02-02-11

Posted by MJ

Here is this week's council agenda:

The public hearing will be held for the job title changes partially discussed here.