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Falls Council hears plea to let restaurant operate year-round

A potential operator for the city-owned Greens Restaurant at the Hyde Park Golf Course urged officials Monday to drop a new requirement that the facility close four months of the year.

Dawn M. Dominguez, a former waitress and barmaid at the Greens Restaurant, and her husband, Mark, said they plan to submit a proposal to run the restaurant but are concerned that shutting it down during the winter would hinder business.

The couple wants the city to amend its "request for proposals" for the restaurant operations.

"We know that the restaurant cannot be operated seven days a week during the winter, but there is business on a limited schedule for dinner, bar, special occasions and events," Mark Dominguez told the City Council. "All we ask is to leave it up to us."

The Porter Road restaurant, which closed in January, has had a string of tenants since 2001 who have been unable to sustain the restaurant's operations.

After terminating the agreement with the previous tenants for defaulting on the rent, the City Council authorized Mayor Paul A. Dyster last month to request new proposals from private operators to run the restaurant for five years.

Dean Spring, the city's purchasing agent, said earlier this month that the new operator would be required to be open when the public golf course is open, but would not be allowed to operate from December through March.

"We've known for years that for some reason this doesn't work as a 12-month-a-year contract," Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. said at the Council's last meeting.

But Dominguez and her husband have asked the city to drop that condition. They presented the City Council with a list of reasons why they think the restaurant's operator should not be forced to close in the winter. They said disconnecting the building's utilities, having to reapply each year for a new liquor license and losing Christmas parties and Lenten fish fries would have a significant impact on its operations.

The city is accepting bids until Friday, and Council Chairman Chris Robins said the mayor would have to decide whether making the lease year-round would be appropriate.

Dyster, who did not attend the meeting because he was in Albany for a conference, could not be reached to comment.

The city notified the last tenant in December that the restaurant had defaulted on the rent. City leaders have said those tenants had been subleasing the site to other operators.

A proposed settlement with the former leaseholders, Mark and Gloria Calvello and Kenneth Zuber, has fallen through, and Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson has said the city would negotiate a new one.

In other business Monday, the Council took the following actions:

*Amended and approved an agreement with Niagara Fine Arts to run a series of concerts in the downtown area and on the steps of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in July and August for $24,000.

The Council eliminated $5,000 from the contract to provide bands and other services for a Memorial Day parade after veterans who organize that event said earlier this month they were not aware of the funding.

Councilman Sam Fruscione said the veterans are still in discussions with city leaders and Patrick M. Kuciewski, executive director of Niagara Fine Arts, for funding for the Memorial Day parade.

*Scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. March 9 for a proposed change in a local law requiring city employees to live in Niagara Falls.

The Council wants to eliminate language that allows workers who lose their jobs for not complying with the law to apply for reinstatement after proving they have re-established residency.

*Approved a contract extension with Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers for $495,000 for final design and preconstruction work on the first phase of a project to restore the former U.S. Customs House on Whirlpool Street so that a passenger train station and transportation center eventually can be located on the site.

The initial $1.2 million contract, dated Jan. 3, 2006, covered design and preliminary engineering work.

The restoration of the U.S. Customs House is the first phase of the train station project, expected to cost as much as $33 million.

e-mail: djgee@buffnews.com

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