Mayor Irene J. Elia and several of her top department heads told residents Tuesday evening to be patient, there will be a positive change in the city.
Elia presided over her first "town hall" meeting attended by about 50 residents at St. Teresa's School, asking them to wait and see how the city will be improving over time.
"Obviously my major goal is economic development. . . . We want to bring jobs to this community. We want our children to stay here," said Elia.
Washington Street resident Robert Oliver complained about piles of rubbish at the site of the former National Carbon Plant on College Avenue. "We have acres and acres out there of rubble. It makes a very poor entrance to the city," he said.
Senior City Planner Thomas DeSantis said that although he is familiar with the problem, the city must first determine what the rubble contains. He said it is uncertain whether crews can complete the cleanup of the site by the end of the summer.
Bernie G. Check of Roselle Avenue complained of the condition of some roads: "I'm glad when it snows. It fills the potholes up."
He also said that he did not ever see police officers around at night.
The mayor responded by touting all the positives that she said have occurred so far since she became mayor.
"We have commitments from companies . . . who are moving back to Niagara Falls," she said.
She added, "It's all of us who have created this situation, and all of us must work together to move this city."
Elia's consultant on team building, Richard N. Knowles, said everyone throughout the city has to work together to make the city successful.
"If we don't pull together, the choice is we keep going down the drain. . . . It's important we're all sharing information and working together the way we are."
Pat Gall of Macklem Avenue complained of a sinkhole on her street. "Someday am I going to just drop into it?" she said.
She also said that the state was in part to blame for the city's financial and physical condition. "This has been the forgotten part of the state," she said. "The state has got to really step in here and help out, and I think now they really have. . . . The rest of the State of New York doesn't look like this."
Her first complaint was addressed by William Bolents, acting director of wastewater, who said he would employ a video camera to identify the sinkholes in her street. "I wasn't aware of the situation," he said.
Police Officer Russell DeFranco showed the group a video system that the department acquired. It will be used to try to catch people who dump illegally and disobey other laws, he said.
City Controller Maria C. Brown tried to assure the group that the city's finances are improving. "The city isn't spending money frivolously," she said.
Corporation Counsel Ronald D. Anton wrapped up the evening, saying: "There are laws of sowing and reaping. What we sow is what we reap. . . . I think that you've got to believe that we're planting some serious seeds."
Future sessions have been scheduled for March 13, First United Methodist Church, 8210 Buffalo Ave.; March 27, LaSalle Senior Citizen Center, 9501 Colvin Blvd.; April 24, John A. Duke Senior Citizen Center, 1201 Hyde Park Blvd.; May 8, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 723 Seventh St.; May 15, St. Charles Parish Center, 56th Street and Lindbergh Avenue; May 29, Porta-Niagara Girls Club, 357 Portage Road; and June 5, Niagara Community Center, 1364 Centre Ave. All will begin at 7 p.m.