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City sues to end contract with developer

The City of Niagara Falls is suing to end a contract with Greater Niagara Sports Group, which manages half the Hyde Park Public Golf Course and the former golf dome which hasn't been removed or repaired since it collapsed eight months ago.

In the suit, city officials ask that the June 2004 agreement be terminated, pointing to the developer's "failure to perform," Corporation Counsel Ronald D. Anton said Tuesday.

The Adelphia golf dome collapsed in April, and has not been removed by Greater Niagara Sports Group despite being cited as a safety hazard by the city's Inspections Department.

The city signed a 20-year no-bid contract with the developer last year to manage the golf dome and driving range and operate half of the city golf course. Under the contract, the developer acquired the Red Nine, a nine-hole course last Jan. 1 and is supposed to acquire the White Nine at the start of next year.

The freestanding, air-supported dome was renamed the Niagara Action Dome. But the developer said plans to revamp the structure into an "extreme sports" venue and complete work on the Red Nine were stalled when a lawsuit was filed in 2004 by residents opposed to the contract.

"They have failed to maintain the Red Nine, or put $350,000 into it as required [by the contract] and consequently, the city has had to maintain it," Anton said.

In addition, the developer hasn't paid any of a $150,000 development fee. A total of $50,000 was due in July.

Officials from Greater Niagara Sports Group could not be reached Tuesday.

Meanwhile, city officials are tackling a legal issue that affects the planned courthouse and Police Department complex to be built on North Main Street.

A contract between the city and developers, Ciminelli Development Co., of Amherst and Largo Real Estate of Wheatfield, is required before land can be purchased for the $37 million project. Approval of the so-called "design services agreement" was stalled recently when development team officials asked the city to pay some of the cost of acquisition up front, Anton said.

It has been estimated that it could cost $2 million to acquire all the land needed. After a three-hour meeting held in City Hall last week, Anton said both sides have agreed the city will not pay that cost up front, but it will be added to the total cost of the project.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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