Tonawanda News

The City

August 23, 2012

Little League Drive sale price questioned

Tonawanda News — After months of silence regarding closed-door negotiations, a City of Tonawanda resident spoke up about the planned housing development at Little League Drive at the city council's meeting Tuesday night. 

Roger Puchalski, of Adam Street, took to the microphone and vehemently questioned the council on the appraised value of the area. 

"I'll have to get back to you and do some research," Fourth Ward Councilmember Tyler Kossow said. "I don't have that information in front of me."

But Puchalski did. Reading from the documents, he said the land was valued at $510,000 in 2005, $580,000 in 2008, and between $510,000 and $575,000 in 2009. Those figures estimate the worth of the parcel without any infrastructure. A check by the News of city records confirms the validity of Puchalski's numbers.

"It comes down to a gift to a corporation," Puchalski said. 

Puchalski said Natale Building Corporation, the company approved for the job, submitted an offer to buy the 16-acre parcel for $192,000 last summer. Council President Carleton Zeisz said that Natale's offer was the highest of three companies that proposed plans. 

City Assessor Dave Marrano said the appraisals Puchalski cited are for the entire Veterans Memorial Park, and that there isn't a current value placed on the parcel proposed for development specifically. Only the former Little League fields are up for sale, not the portion dedicated specifically to the park.

But the documents clearly state that the 16.94 acres up for grabs were appraised in the $500,000 range in 2005, 2008, and 2009. After examining the appraisals himself, Mayor Ronald Pilozzi agreed. 

Either way, Pilozzi and Zeisz said another appraisal will be done if the city decides to sell the land.

"I don't want to throw out numbers as he did," Pilozzi said of Puchalski's protestations Tuesday. "They were from 2005, 2006, 2009 — those are old numbers. I don't want to hang my hat on old numbers. All the more reason to get an up to date appraisal." 

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