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Editorial: Unseemly squabbling in the City of Tonawanda

Whatever is amiss in the City of Tonawanda that creates an atmosphere in which the mayor and a businessman hurl curses at each other needs to stop. Whether it’s something in the atmosphere or the drinking water, an antidote to this verbal poison has to be administered.

As recently reported in The News, Mayor Rick Davis and businessman Michael Hacikyan engaged in a verbal altercation that threatens a development deal. And city taxpayers are the ones who will lose.

To recap: Hacikyan has put on hold a proposed waterfront development, claiming Davis has delayed the project for two years and cursed at him. Twice, while “tossing him out of his City Hall office.”


Davis owned up to swearing at Hacikyan. But in the familiar childhood rule of “he hit me first!” followed up by saying he did so only after the developer “unleashed a profanity-laced tirade at him.”

The mayor said he has tried to move the project forward, going to “extraordinary lengths.” By the way, this is a project the mayor characterized as languishing for five years. Hardly the encouraging statement residents want to hear.

Hacikyan’s Canal Side Development LLC has had plans to redevelop the former HSBC Bank branch at 6 Main St., along the Erie Canal. He just won’t spend anything on the project as long as Davis is the mayor. Not a single dollar. At least, that is what he said in a letter mailed to The News by his

attorney, Deborah J. Chadsey.
This is the quintessential clash between politician and businessman. There is the mayor of a city with a population just more than 15,000 and a developer, also president of Aquasol Corp., a medical equipment wholesale company in North Tonawanda, who both appear equally stubborn.
Stuck in the middle – unfortunately not uncommon in such disagreements – are taxpayers.

Hacikyan’s lawyer traces the dispute back to the developer wanting the mayor to help persuade Verizon to remove a utility pole from the property and bury the phone lines underground.

Here’s a suggestion: Instead of worry about burying phone lines, how about burying the hatchet? Two years, five years – progress has been stalled long enough.

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