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Rally planned for project on culinary arts

The Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board decided Monday that it will host a rally in support of bringing an estimated $10 million Niagara County Community College Culinary Arts Institute to downtown Niagara Falls.

"It's very important that we fight for this," said Jerry Genova, head of the volunteer board.

Board member Bill Bradberry, a lawyer and local activist, said he plans to hold a news conference to "make some noise" about why Niagara Falls would be a better location for the planned institute than Lewiston, which is also in the running.

Village of Lewiston Mayor Richard F. Soluri organized a rally Thursday that drew 75 community members who want the institute to go in the historic Frontier House on Center Street.

"Let's see if we can one-up them and get a bigger crowd at the Conference Center [Niagara Falls]," Bradberry said.

The City Council issued a resolution in December in support of locating the institute in Niagara Falls when it learned that two of the three locations being considered are downtown.

Councilman Sam Fruscione said that while the Falls locations have not been officially identified by the college, he believes they are the conference center and a surface parking lot at Third and Niagara streets, which is currently the subject of a request for development proposals put out by the city and USA Niagara Development Corp.

Board members pointed out that the Falls' conference center has a state-of-the-art kitchen and is across the street from Seneca Niagara Casino.

"We should have a walk-through of the facilities and compare them to the Frontier House," said board member Vincent Mamelli.

Also at Monday's meeting:

* The tourism board heard a presentation from Carmen Toromino, promoter of the Niagara Motorcycle Rally, who said he would like to move it to downtown Niagara Falls. The event was held for two years at the Summit mall in Wheatfield and then last year at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA in the Town of Niagara, where it is currently planned to be held again this year during the second weekend in July. He said the three-day event attracts an estimated 15,000 visitors.

Toromino said he has met with Mayor Vince Anello, who he said is in favor of holding the event on Main Street, while Councilman Lewis Rotella has urged him to consider East Falls Street near the Seneca Niagara Casino where there is a large amount of vacant land owned by Niagara Falls Redevelopment.

Toromino said he is waiting to see what the city could offer him to support the event -- the Town of Niagara handles garbage removal and offers police for security at no charge, he said -- and whether anything can be worked out at either Falls location.

* The board also discussed a proposal by Patrick M. Kuciewski, executive director of Niagara Summer Fine Arts Program, to coordinate and manage a concert series for the city this summer. Kuciewski, who was not at the meeting, is asking for $12,000 from the city to run the series to be held every Friday and Sunday in July and August with Top 40, pop or rock music. Friday concerts would be held downtown, on Third Street, while those on Sundays would be on the steps of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center on Pine Avenue.

e-mail: gfranklin@buffnews.com

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