Tonawanda News

The City

November 13, 2013

City of Tonawanda Council ponders Little League Drive

Tonawanda News — Although Election Day has come and gone, the future of the Little League Drive development — and whether the council would approve the contract — remains unclear.

Council President Carleton Zeisz said he plans on discussing whether to put the contract up for a vote before January, when the new council members will take their seats. Republican Charles Gilbert was sworn in Tuesday as the First Ward Councilman, a seat that became vacant after Heather Little stepped down in August.

“We need more discussion on the issue. We need to see where everyone stands,” Zeisz said.

The contract calls for construction of 53 condominium-status homes that will be built in three phases. Natale will pay a total of $192,000 for the 16.94-acre property, and will also pay for infrastructure costs at the site, including the installation of roads, water and sewer lines and street lighting. The infrastructure work is estimated to cost between $1.5 million and $1.8 million. 

But in exchange for the infrastructure work, the city agreed to allow Natale to classify the homes under the state’s condominium status, which will result in the homes being assessed at a reduced rate.

Put simply, homeowners whose properties cost between $225,000 and $250,000 to buy will pay taxes as if the home was worth between $146,250 and $162,500.

Four votes are required to sell property in the city, but only three current council members firmly support the contract.

Although Zeisz supported the project when the city initially issued request for proposals, he said last week that he still needs to review how the community feels about the project and its longterm effects.

“I can’t say that I’m going to support this right now,” he said. “I know I have been behind it, and I wanted to see the houses through, but it’s not that simple ... this is forever, we only get one crack at this if we say yes.”

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