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NIAGARA FALLS MAYOR TO SEEK DEMOLITION OF WINTERGARDEN

Mayor James C. Galie wants to demolish the Wintergarden as part of a $3.2 million public works program he hopes to finance with the $4 million Love Canal settlement the city received from the state this year.

Galie and City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino said Thursday they will present the proposal to the City Council at 3 p.m. Monday with Galie's 1998 budget.

Corporation Counsel Robert P. Merino said use of the money would be subject to the approval of the Council. The $4 million, which the city has invested to earn interest while its use is being decided, is the second and last payment from the state out of a $98 million settlement with Occidental Chemical Corp.

Galie's plan calls for spending $600,000 to tear down the Wintergarden. It also includes repaving 29 streets, sewer repairs, sidewalk improvements, computer upgrades, new Fire Department air packs and repairs at the City Market.

Galie would place $800,000 into a tax stabilization fund.

Council Chairman Vince V. Anello said he could agree with most of Galie's plan but would have second thoughts about spending that kind of money to demolish the Wintergarden.

"I would rather demolish some homes in neighborhoods that are distressed," he said. "I think before we talk about tearing down the Wintergarden, we should see the (redevelopment) plan. It's not that I don't think it should be demolished; I just don't know if we can afford to demolish it now."

The Wintergarden, a tall greenhouse completed in 1977, cost $7.8 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, according to former City Manager Nicholas E. Marchelos.

Restaino said demolishing the Wintergarden would reduce the city's annual operating cost of more than $250,000, a large chunk of which goes for utilities. He said no legal agreements with the adjoining Ramada Inn at the Falls or Rainbow Centre Factory Outlets would prohibit demolishing the glass structure.

Galie said demolishing the Wintergarden has been discussed for years and he thinks it would be a major step toward redeveloping the downtown area. Officials of the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp. did not ask that the Wintergarden be demolished, according to Restaino and two key people with the redevelopment, Brian A. Meilleur, president of the redevelopment corporation, and David Carter of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, which is working on the waterfront aspect of the plan.

Meilleur said the corporation was consulted and said it was the city's decision.

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