LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature expects to hold a special meeting next week to begin a new bidding process for selling the county’s property on Davison Road in Lockport.
Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, blocked action Tuesday on a late resolution that would have declared the Davison land surplus property, which Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said was a mandatory preliminary to seeking bids for the land.
The declaration would have exempted 25 acres from the sale. That exemption would include both of the county’s records storage buildings, the An-Jo League baseball diamonds, an old paupers’ cemetery and the golf course storage and irrigation buildings. The golf course itself is a separate parcel and is also not for sale.
Burgasser and Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, confirmed that after more than a year and a half, negotiations fell through with R.B. Mac Construction of Lockport, which sought to buy the property.
But Burgasser said he hopes R.B. Mac will submit a bid if the Legislature acts as expected next Tuesday.
The bidding rules as set out in the proposal split the land into two parcels. The “front” parcel along Davison Road is a 16.9-acre area that includes the Switzer Building, which is the former county infirmary, later used as Social Services Department headquarters, and land immediately around it.
The second parcel has some road frontage south of the first parcel, but it extends into open space to the east and totals 49.4 acres.
The terms restrict the use of the front parcel for the first five years to residential use, including homes or apartments, along with retail or professional offices.
“The sale of Parcel 2 will be contingent on the reuse of Parcel 1,” said Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport. “The two are interconnected.”
Virtuoso questioned the zoning of the property, through which runs the boundary between the City and Town of Lockport. “It has to be used for a certain use. If it’s not zoned for that use, what good is it?” he asked.
No one was able to answer the zoning question Tuesday. Virtuoso also said the county needs an updated appraisal of the land’s value.
“I don’t think a business would sell property not knowing what’s it’s worth,” he said.
But the primary reason Virtuoso exercised his right as a party leader to block action on a late resolution was that he and his Democratic colleagues were given no advance notice of the Davison Road measure, which the Republican majority apparently had been fully briefed upon in their caucus.
“This is dropped in our lap and we’re supposed to make a decision on it in 20 minutes. That’s not right,” Virtuoso said. “Politics is politics, but this is county government.” “If there’s any information you need, you should get it,” Updegrove replied.
The majority leader denied that there was a rush to act on the measure, even though a special meeting would speed up the process by one week. The Legislature is scheduled for a regular meeting March 4.
“There is no rush, but why not have a special meeting?” he asked. The meeting would be held after the Administration Committee session at 6 p.m. Tuesday.