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Trial period has ended for digital parking meter

NIAGARA FALLS -- The city stopped using more than 90 digital parking meters on downtown streets after a free trial period ended Tuesday.

City officials must decide now whether to purchase the meter system from Photo Violation Technologies, a British Columbia company that installed the meters for free for the trial run.

The meters have cameras to record the license plate numbers of parking offenders and other electronic features, but the city encountered problems last year in getting the meter system fully running.

The city was not able to use the cameras to write tickets during the trial period, but did collect parking revenue from the system.


Worker who was suspended is placed on paid leave

NIAGARA FALLS -- A city worker accused of putting a "whites only" sign on a public works drinking fountain returned to work Wednesday following a 20-day suspension, but was told he will be placed on paid leave, city officials said.

James Curtis pleaded not guilty to second-degree aggravated harassment last month. The charge is normally a misdemeanor, but has been categorized as a racially motivated hate crime in this case, making it a Class E felony.


National Grid to help with mall conversion

NIAGARA FALLS -- National Grid will contribute a $500,000 grant toward a USA Niagara Development Corp. project to turn a pedestrian mall outside Niagara Falls State Park into a street, the two entities announced Wednesday.

The money will be used toward the $4.8 million, full-depth reconstruction of Old Falls Street between Prospect and First streets.

The total project is estimated to cost $7.9 million and will be paid for with state funds. It also will include the demolition of the former Wintergarden on Rainbow Boulevard to connect Old Falls Street to the entrance of the state park.

The reconstructed street will include new utilities for outdoor vending, tree lighting and public events, as well as new street amenities, benches and landscaping.

The grant is from National Grid's Urban Center/Commercial District Revitalization program.

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