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Vote set on razing vacant buildings

The city could demolish up to 26 vacant buildings this year with federal funds it receives for community development.

The City Council today will vote on a proposal to use $529,800 from its Department of Community Development budget to hire Cambria Contracting of Lockport to raze derelict buildings.

At least a dozen of the structures slated for demolition are condemned houses in an area between Fourth and 10th streets the city is targeting for residential redevelopment.

The houses are just a small portion of vacant buildings in the Falls that can attract crime, said Council Chairman Robert Anderson Jr.

"The drugs dealers and those people who are doing unscrupulous things in the evening time, they could care less if we never tore them down," Anderson said.

Block club leader Norma Higgs said vacant buildings were a concern for a group of citizens who traveled by van to Albany last week to seek the help of state lawmakers on various issues. Higgs would like the state to contribute money for tearing down blighted structures in the Falls as it does in other communities through its Restore New York program.

Last year, Niagara Falls budgeted $1.3 million of its community development budget to demolish vacant buildings, but the money was not enough to address all of the city's derelict structures. The Council later approved an additional $103,000 in casino revenue and a $200,000 bond for emergency demolitions.

Homes without asbestos can cost the city more than $20,000 to demolish.

Mayor Vince Anello will also ask the Council today to reconsider his proposal to borrow $3 million this year to fix city infrastructure and buy new equipment. Anello would like to issue general obligation bonds to pay for a list of capital projects, including replacing the roof at City Hall and purchasing new trucks.

The Council last month postponed voting on the $3 million proposal to further discuss how much the city should borrow. Anello has proposed borrowing $3 million a year to address capital needs and paying the debt back through the city's slot machine revenue.

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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