Tonawanda News

The City

June 12, 2014

Natale's threat to sue hampers plans for two city properties

Tonawanda News — The threat of a lawsuit from Natale Builders is hampering plans for two properties in the City of Tonawanda — the Little League Drive parcel and the old Clint Small Stadium.

The two parcels have been part of discussions in the school district and city for years. The school board has repeatedly voiced its desire for 4 acres of the LL Drive property, which sits adjacent to the new Clint Small Stadium.

In exchange, the district has proposed giving the city the land on Main Street where the old football field is located.

“This acreage would make a great asset for our kids, and would give us practice fields, soccer fields and baseball fields for the community,” Board member Bob Starr said Tuesday night.

But the city negotiated with Natale Builders for almost four years as part of an effort to develop the entire 16.93-acre property, including the 4 acres the school district would like to acquire. Last year, Natale and the city reached a tentative agreement, and the document specified that homes would be built on the 4 acres in question.

The council never passed that contract due to Natale’s intention to classify the new homes under the state’s condominium status — which would have resulted in lower assessed values and lower tax bills. Although Mayor Rick Davis said he attempted to negotiate with Natale, he said his efforts were unsuccessful, and the city severed ties with Natale last month.

“Ultimately I couldn’t come to an agreement that I was comfortable with and that a supermajority of the council would agree to,” he said in April.

With the deal from Natale off the table, the city council began discussing other options for the property, and Davis said he intended to send out another request for proposals.

Discussions of a possible land swap between the district and city were also renewed, and in February, the council passed a resolution allowing talks to take place.

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