NIAGARA FALLS, NY -- For the past week, we have been working to hold three city council members in Niagara Falls accountable about a stalled hotel project.
WEB EXTRA: See the proposed development agreement between the city, USA Niagara and developer Mark Hamister
Last week, the project was put on hold because three of five city council members wanted to renegotiate the city's land deal with developer Mark Hamister. They believe the land the hotel would sit on is worth more than the $100,000 the developer has agreed to pay.
After not returning our calls last Thursday, Council Member Sam Fruscione, and his two colleagues who voted to table the hotel deal, sent us a fax Tuesday evening.
The fax explains that the three council members think they did not have enough time before their July 8 city council meeting to go over the deal's documents. They also think the development deal contains a "reverter clause" that they say could end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars if the city has to take the land back.
We asked Fruscione why wait so long to answer our questions.
And, we also spoke with Council Member Kristen Grandinetti about why she supports the deal as-is.
"I'm trying to get our message out for us, and I'm glad you called because now we can actually get our message out. There's a couple of particular issues here we want to prevent from happening so we can protect the taxpayers. That's all we're trying to do. Nobody's anti-business, anti-project. We want to do the project, but we want to do it at the lowest risk possible for the homeowners and the business owners of the City of NF," said Fruscione.
"So why haven't you talked to anybody until now?" asked Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.
"Because every time we go to talk we just get cut off, or it turns into something silly like my store in Niagara Falls. I mean, there's all kind of ridiculous tactics that occurred by the other side to miss the message," said Fruscione.
"I truly do not understand their objection to this project, and it's baffling me, and it's a slap in the face to the people of the city," said Grandinetti.
"So when Same Fruscione tells me that he is not anti-business, do you believe him?" asked Dudzik.
"No, absolutely not. This is, and you know what, this could be scary, this could be scary to some people. We've had a lot of people come to this town and make promises to us that they haven't been able to keep. With that being said, this is different. This is a developer of a different stature," she replied.
Fruscione went on to say that if he voted yes on the deal right now with that clause in it, he feels he could be known as the council member who gave the city away and put a lot of debt on taxpayers. He says he did not kill the deal and he is pro-business.
The city council has the month of August off.