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Anello to ask for courthouse consultant City Council tabled his previous request

Mayor Vince Anello today will ask the City Council for the second time to hire a firm that could help city leaders oversee a private development team that is designing and constructing a new city courthouse and Police Headquarters on north Main Street.

Anello has resubmitted a request to the Council to spend up to $30,000 on a consultant for the city's Law Department to help oversee the project, which is estimated to cost at least $45 million.

"We're looking for a firm that is flexible enough to view different phases of this project and give us advice on it," Anello said Sunday. "We need to effectively get to the construction."

The Council tabled a similar request in May.

"I want to know the background of the individual or firm that we're going to hire," said Council Chairman Robert Anderson Jr. "What is this individual supposed to do that hasn't been done already?"

The city is already paying a private development team lead by Ciminelli Development Co. and Largo Real Estate Advisors, both of Amherst, a monthly fee of $26,667 to design and build the facility. Under the city's contract with the Ciminelli team, the Falls must reimburse the developer for other professional services, including architectural fees and attorney costs.

The city has so far reimbursed the Ciminelli team $1.33 million for professional services and other expenses.

Paul Ciminelli, president of Ciminelli Development, told the Council in May that his firm is looking out for the interest of the taxpayers and that another outside consultant is not necessary.

Anello contends the city now needs another firm to help oversee the project, which has taken longer than expected and will likely cost more than initial estimates.

Anello said he is also looking for a replacement for acting Corporation Counsel Damon DeCastro, who submitted his resignation in June but has continued to work for the city. DeCastro has disagreed with the Ciminelli team's attorneys over how the city should proceed with the courthouse project.

City leaders have not yet determined how the Falls will pay for the new building, and Anello said he would like a consultant to help review financing proposals the Ciminelli team is expected to publicly present in September.

An advisory committee of local volunteers recommended a year ago that the city hire a part-time consultant that could serve as a clerk of the works or a manager to look out for the city's interests. Neither the Council nor the mayor at the time acted on the committee's recommendation.

"The key is, we probably should have had somebody who specialized in this initially," said Anderson.

The Council will also vote today on a contract to purchase a parcel of land at 1931 Main St. for $117,000 from owner Inez Monica Boyle on the block where the public safety complex will be located. The city had been pursuing using its power of eminent domain to acquire the property, along with a landscaping business on the same block.

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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