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MAY 12 - MAY 19, 2015

Only in NT" Buffalo Bolt Exemplifies Subsidy Mentality

By Sweeney Payne

May 12, 2015

Taylor Devices President/CEO Doug Taylor held a “ribbon cutting” event at their new facilities located in North Tonawanda's Buffalo Bolt business park Nov. 14, 2013.
A raft of local politicians came out to join Taylor.

The Buffalo Bolt Business Park project exemplifies citizen concerns that only special interests and politically connected people need apply for taxpayer subsidies in NT. It and the Remington Rand plant conversion are the worst examples.

The $50,000 fence around the front part with the Buffalo Bolt logos on them, paid for with a State grant obtained by former State Senator George Maziarz always has weeds climbing all over it on the Oliver Street side. It only goes a short way around on either end so the only thing "fenced out" is really Oliver Street. The "lawn" is rarely mowed.

The Buffalo Bolt Business Park property was subdivided, in 1989 on foreclosure for back taxes owed by Roblin Steel, with the City of NT assuming ownership of 11.5 acres in 1992. At the time, Banac Enterprises owned the remaining 11.8 acres. In 1995, that portion was used as an automobile salvage operation. NT eventually foreclosed on that portion as well for back taxes.

Confer Plastics leased two long and narrow buildings, on the west side of the site, from 1977-1987. These buildings no longer exist. Confer relocated to Witmer Road.

In 1998, NT received a "brownfields" redevelopment grant, through the NYS Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, to facilitate the investigation and remediation of the Roblin Steel site "clean up." The 23-acre site, an abandoned industrial property, bounded by East Avenue on the north, Oliver Street on the east, 8th Avenue on the south, and the Conrail-Lackawanna railroad tracks on the west, needed to be made "shovel ready" for new occupants. That was in 199827 years ago.

In April 2003, demolition of all the buildings on the site, except for the privately-owned Armstrong Pumps, began--12 years ago, during the Burgio administration.

A full-color brochure produced during the Soos administration (through December 31, 2008) listed a price per lot "starting at $5,000 per acre." With the infrastructure put in since then, has that price remained the same? The brochure proclaimed it was "ready for development and the City's Lumber City Development Corporation is ready to assist you in finding the best development package for your company. We can be your point of contact in identifying lending and grant opportunities as well as any tax benefits that may apply to your project." It listed "companies that have already made the Buffalo Bolt Business Park a part of their growth and success: Armstrong Pumps, operating in 114,500 square feet on 4.5 acres in the Business Park; and Brittany Industries."

Common Council minutes during the Soos administration indicated the site was finally ready for marketing. Nearly seven years later, its still a vacant "field of dreams" for the residents who were sold a bill of goods that it would bring in property tax revenue, jobs for residents, and help bring back life to Oliver Street.

An April 11, 2008 Buffalo News article announced a $1.2 million grant obtained by NYS Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. A July 22, 2008 news article reported that Mayor Soos had received official notification of a $1.2 million grant for roadwork to the proposed Buffalo Bolt Business Park. The House of Representatives approved a $930,000 allocation of Federal funds for the project, obtained by Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds. That was all taxpayer funding.

A March 3, 2009 news article proclaimed "Buffalo Bolt site wins grant. Plans for new business park bolstered by up to $190,000 from National Grid." Mayor Soos said that four companies had already expressed an interest in building on the lot once the infrastructure is in place. Are we still waiting for completion of the infrastructure? We certainly are still waiting for the companies interested in "building on the lot"! Why hasn't this been a priority instead of a marina on the River which most of us didn't want?

An October 30, 2009 Buffalo News article claimed "Infrastructure work to help turn a formerly contaminated site on Oliver Street into a business park is on track to be completed by the end of May, City Engineer Dale W. Marshall said this week." The contamination is still under there. It will soon be five years from the May 2010 anticipated completion date.

We were to get a 900-foot roadway and cul-de-sac, sewer lines, a water main and concrete curbing, on what this reporter said was a 23-acre site between East and 9th Avenues. The roadway into the site at 10th Avenue was completed and renamed in 2011.

The cost of "site cleanup" per that article was pegged at $3.4 million. Remedial work had been completed in 2004, meaning it was capped over. The article indicated that Hunt Real Estate was selected in 2008 to market the site. LCDC Director at that time, James Sullivan, explained he thought the lack of interest was because "everybody's been kind of waiting for that road." The road has been in now for nearly four years. Was it only meant for Taylor Devices?





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