Tonawanda News


September 14, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Council ignored public on Vets Park plan


Tonawanda News — The RFP for the Little League Drive development specifically stated no condo status. Which is exactly what Natale Builder got. Did any other developer have a chance to put in a proposal under those conditions? No. Would there have been other proposals if that major condition was known? Yes. I talked with a couple and so did Councilwoman Little. Favoritism? Certainly. Did the city get the best deal? We will never know.

And then there are simple things like fairness. Is it right for people who can afford homes priced from $180,000 to $300,000 to get 100 percent police protection, 100 percent fire protection, 100 percent school services, 100 percent snow plowing, but only pay 60 percent of city, school and county property taxes? No. Is it fair that people who own a $70,000 or $80,000 home may struggle to pay 100 percent of their taxes? No, it’s not. Sure, the new homeowners won’t get trash pick up from the city and will have to fill their own potholes. But that’s not where 40 percent of our taxes go.

Residents shouldn’t feel bad about their treatment before the council, however. The city’s school board has received the same treatment. The Tonawanda school board has expressed an interest in a few acres of the Vets Park land. Will the council vote on that request before it signs a contract with Natale? Probably not. It will just ignore them like it ignored a request for an official public hearing (not an informational meeting where nothing is recorded) to explore all ideas.

In the meantime the council hires an outside lawyer — so far the tab is near $20,000 — to negotiate a contract with no significant concessions and sell land for less than its worth to a developer who will make millions. Why would anyone question the council?

Roger Puchalski is a City of Tonawanda resident.

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