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Niagara County hires new public works chief

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature on Thursday confirmed Garret A. Meal of Cambria as the county’s new public works commissioner.

Meal, the son of onetime Legislature Chairman Gerald E. Meal, has been a licensed professional engineer for 16 years. He was chosen by County Manager Richard E. Updegrove to serve a four-year term, succeeding Kevin P. O’Brien, who retired earlier this year.

Meal has been a supervising engineer for the past four years at Parsons Brinckerhoff in Buffalo, where he was a project manager, lead designer or supervising engineer for such projects as HarborCenter, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge toll plaza upgrades, the Maid of the Mist winter boat storage facility and the Letchworth State Park nature center.

Meal also put in four years at Urban Engineers of New York and 10 years at R&D Engineering, both in Buffalo.

“It’s a great opportunity, and an opportunity to work at home. My consulting work was all over the place. I’m a Niagara County guy through and through,” said Meal, 45.

He starts work Oct. 3, and his salary from now through the end of 2017 will be $94,799 a year. Meal will be paid $100,684 in 2018, $102,697 in 2019 and $104,751 in 2020.

In another matter Thursday, the Legislature agreed to spend $5,000 to pay the legal costs of dissolving the Oppenheim Zoological Society, operators of a long-defunct zoo on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield.

In 2013, the county won a court fight with the Kiwanis Club of Niagara Falls over which of two competing deeds was valid for a takeover of the 15.3-acre property, which became available after the zoo shut down in 1988. The county got the land for free and will merge it with the adjoining 70-acre Oppenheim Park, but the deal called for the county to pay off the zoological society’s expenses.

The county will use the former zoo land for soccer fields and to align the park entrance with the traffic signal at Niagara Falls Boulevard and Witmer Road.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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