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County offers funds to ease flood woes

A proposal aimed at alleviating flooding problems for homeowners on Witmer Road may get a quarter-million-dollar boost from Niagara County.

The Niagara County Refuse Disposal District has offered the city $250,000 over five years, which would pay for most of an engineering project designed to solve a longtime problem of severe flooding in the yards of homes between River Road and the city line with Wheatfield.

The Refuse Disposal District has a landfill on River Road near Witmer, which Mayor Robert G. Ortt said Refuse District Director Richard Pope has admitted plays some role in exacerbating the flooding issues in the area.

The Common Council discussed the proposal Tuesday night during a work session in City Hall and is expected to take an official vote on the matter in the coming weeks.

The deal also must be ratified by the Niagara County Legislature before it takes effect.

Under the proposal, the county would pay $50,000 per year for five years, Ortt said.

The most severe flooding happens in a stretch of about a dozen homes on Witmer, and mostly in times of heavy snowmelt, Ortt said.

The city plans to borrow the funds to pay for the project. The estimated total cost is about $360,000, with the city covering the portion not paid for by the county.

County Legislator Phillip I. "Russ" Rizzo, a former city alderman, has been a big proponent of making this deal happen, Ortt said.

In other matters:

* Ortt said he plans to name a blue-ribbon panel to plan an event marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, later this year. Aldermen Richard L. Andres Jr. and Dennis M. Pasiak will represent the Council on the committee.

* Representatives of Aquasol, a Thompson Street manufacturer, have asked the city about the possibility of purchasing a paper street known as the Kent Street right of way.

The city has assessed the property at $9,000, but officials noted the city has built infrastructure on it, which would increase the value if the city decides to sell.

* City officials are seeking volunteers to help with two cleanup events: the Canal Clean Sweep on April 16, and a cleanup of Oliver Street tentatively scheduled for April 30.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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