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Funding efforts for Flight of Five continue despite project's legal snags

While the Flight of Five restoration project remains stuck on a legal snag, the city is continuing to make plans for funding for the $10 million project.

The Common Council on Wednesday hired videographer Kevin Crosby for $7,500 to make a promotional video for the plan to return the 19th century Erie Canal locks to working order.

"We're going to be going out to the local foundations soon for the Flight of Five," Mayor Michael W. Tucker said. "We need something that shows what we want to do. We need a wow factor."

Tucker said he hopes a face-to-face session between Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano and lawyers for the New York State Canal Corp. can be arranged soon to try to settle the legal issue over access to the old locks for construction.

The question remains whether a lease or a permit would satisfy the access guarantee the city's bond counsel wants before the city can borrow money to complete the project. The city has more than $3 million in hand, mostly from state and federal grants.

Ottaviano said, "Sometimes you have to lock people in a room and not let them out until they settle."

Also Wednesday, the Council signed the city up for a new police communications console, to be paid for entirely through a Homeland Security grant.

The price of the new console will be determined through competitive bidding from contractors. The city intends to obtain a unit manufactured by Zetron, the same company that made the Niagara County Sheriff's Office console.

Thus, if one department's unit were to fail, its dispatchers could be shifted to the other without retraining. The two departments are located about three miles apart.

The aldermen awarded a $122,000 contract for rehabilitating a mixing tank at the water filtration plant. United Eagle Painting Corp. of the City of Tonawanda will perform the work.

The Council voted to seek bids for two new Water Department dump trucks, one of which would be equipped with a snowplow blade and salt spreader. The combined cost of the two vehicles is estimated at $90,000.

The Council learned that the apparent low bidder for surveillance cameras to be posted near the Lowertown chemical plants is Integrated Systems of Victor, for $44,707. The aldermen have yet to act on the bid.

City officials said earlier this month that three cameras, controlled from Police Headquarters, are to be installed on utility poles near the Twin Lake and VanDeMark chemical plants on Mill Street.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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