Tonawanda News

October 6, 2013

Davis opposed to Natale housing deal|GUEST VIEW: Davis opposed to Natale housing deal

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — For the past number of months I have studied the proposal and attended the public hearing on the latest plans that have been negotiated by Larry Rubin, hired by Mayor Pilozzi to deal with Natale Builders for the development of the former Little League property. As this was a project that actually started when I was a member of the Common Council years ago and was an idea that I was in favor of, it pains me at this point to have to now state my opposition to the project and I want to be clear as to my reasons. 

First, the request for proposals that was adopted when I voted on it specifically prohibited tax breaks of any kind as well as prohibited any homeowners association with fees, both of which are now being proposed. The developer is asking that these homes be granted condominium status with a 35 percent reduction in their assessment and taxes permanently. I am not anti-tax break, I am against the infinite length of time of this tax break.

Second, the proposal today would allow the developer to purchase the parcel in stages paying only one-third of a questionable value for the site. In addition and of equal concern, the developer would be allowed to construct infrastructure in the same stages and the contract does not seem to have any penalty if the developer does not complete the project. This could potentially lead to only one-third of these homes built, one-third of the street constructed and the city left to wait many years before being able to recover the land for completion. 

Third, the Tonawanda Board of Education has for a number of years requested a part of this parcel for their uses adjacent to the new stadium and fields and I think it is apparent to anyone with eyes and ears that with the new stadium and activities, putting a buffer between this development makes sense. Said negotiations might include some sort of exchange for the former Clint Small Stadium property on Main and Roosevelt streets. 

Fourth, I am told that that the upcoming massive sewer work that we are under mandate by the DEC to do is being adjusted to begin in Riverview as it is necessary to complete this development. This may be the most shocking decision yet. With other parts of our city suffering basement flooding with every heavy rain storm, to tell them they will have to wait for relief so that this project can move forward is nothing short of criminal. 

In conclusion, I am strongly in favor of developing a modified area at the former Little League site and I understand the skepticism of some for finding another developer, but I am convinced this is a bad deal for our taxpayers. This contract does not protect the city and does not address any concerns from homeowners that live adjacent to the property. The city has spent over $20,000 on Mr. Rubin’s services, the mayor’s handpicked negotiator, to represent the city in negotiations and with a contract that heavily favors the developer it begs one to pose the question, who is actually looking out for our current taxpayers?

Rick Davis is a candidate for mayor in the City of Tonawanda.