Mayor McCaffrey highlights achievements in State of City address in Lockport
“Good Afternoon and welcome,” said City of Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey at the Town and Country Club on Wednesday. “I’m pleased to be here today to share with you the optimism that I have in our great city of Lockport.”
Before I begin, I would like to thank Rotary Club for hosting us today and especially Ellen Schratz and Dave Greenfield for their coordination. I would also like to thank the staff of the Lockport Town and Country Club for a wonderful lunch. And a special thank you to my husband, Chris, and my mother, Brenda, for their constant support.?
I would like to acknowledge some dignitaries who are with us today: Representing Senator Ortt today is Madeline Genovese, From Niagara County we have Niagara County Manager Rick Updegrove and Chairman of the Legislature Keith McNall and Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtzsek.
And from the City of Lockport Common Council– Council President Dave Wohleben, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Oates, and 5th Ward Alderman Rick Abbott are here. I’m honored to work with these exceptional council members who are showing their leadership in our city. They are completely dedicated to making sound decisions for our residents. Each of these aldermen has taken a special interest and their contributions are paying off. Alderman Oates has been instrumental in improvements in our parks, Alderman Wohleben has taken the lead to address abandoned zombie homes and Alderman Abbott has been dedicated to workforce development. Each has gone above and beyond in working hard for their constituents and finding solutions to problems. Thank you for your service.
And many of our Department Heads are here – these are our city leaders who ensure that vital services are provided to our residents and businesses: Sue Mawhiney, John Ottaviano, Richelle Pasceri, Tracy Farrell, Rolando Moreno, Brian Smith, Chief Michael Niethe, Chief Pat Brady, Jim Nunnari, Mike Hoffman, Jason Dool, Also I am joined by my assistant Diane Crowe – who makes sure that my office runs smoothly every day. Thank you all for being here today and thank you for your dedicated service to the City of Lockport.
We have a great team of department leaders who are working together – in unison – every day and they share my vision of putting our city and its residents and businesses first – in all of our decision-making.
One thing you may have noticed as I announced our department heads here today – is that we continue to add women to our city’s leadership. For the first time in the city’s history – we have women in five key positions – simultaneously – this is unprecedented. I am pleased to work with our City Treasurer Sue Mawhiney, City Clerk Richelle Pasceri, City Assessor Tracy Farrell, and Civil Service Director Mary Pat Holz. Some of them were appointed, our Treasurer was elected – but all bring a passion and commitment to ensuring that city government runs smoothly. In addition, I’m pleased to also have with us today the first female District Attorney in Niagara County – Caroline Wojtaszek. Would you all please stand? You deserve to be recognized for your excellent work in city and county government.
In addition to these women, I invited a special person to join us today – Lockport’s First female Mayor – Mayor Joan Radecke. Unfortunately she was unable to join us. But her contributions merit recognition. Mayor Radecke was a trailblazer for us and we thank her for setting the bar high and reminding us that – as women – we can and must seize opportunities to serve our communities. Her remarkable courage to enter politics in the 1970s when women were just beginning to establish their roles in government … is an achievement that deserves to be recognized and her influence on women in Lockport is evident here today. I would like to thank her for her service.
On to business development in the City of Lockport. Most of us know that to start or expand a business, it takes confidence. Confidence that the market will support your business, confidence that the city has a climate conducive to business, and ultimately confidence that your venture will succeed. I’d like to provide a few examples of businesses who are demonstrating their confidence in Lockport through business investment.
First, we were thrilled to recently learn that GM will be investing $32 million for new components production at our Lockport plant. This project will retain 320 jobs, including 13 salaried positions. GM has been and continues to be a key employer in Lockport and we are so happy that they see that the Lockport plant is a place where they chose to make an incredible investment.
Lockport natives Kevin and Kinda Baker have a successful business – National Recovery Solutions. They’ve opened a new location right in the heart of downtown on our Main Street. They have already created 15 new high-paying jobs and are hoping to add a total of over 50 jobs in the coming years. Their business successfully works with student loan debt and their reputation has led them to obtain a federal contract ensuring that this work will remain in Lockport for the coming years.
Another indicator of an improved business climate is the recently announced expansion plans of three city businesses. The Shamus Restaurant, The Penalty Box Sports Bar and Grill, and right here at the Lockport Town and Country Club. These are encouraging indicators and we wish them all continued success.
Lockport has deep roots in industry and a long legacy of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work – but not everyone has the skills necessary to apply for jobs that are available. Lockport is home to several great workforce development organizations, including the YWCA and BOCES’ Literacy Zone. This past year we saw the addition of one more- Isaiah 61. Isaiah 61, a workforce training program based out of Niagara Falls, opened a second location right here in Lockport. The organization uses dilapidated houses as classrooms to teach unemployed and underemployed individuals the construction trades in order to help prepare them for jobs. I am so excited to see what Isaiah 61’s impact will be on the residents who take advantage of this program and the neighborhoods in our community that will benefit.
Economic Development continues to be a priority as we bring state resources to Lockport to assist our businesses. We recently completed grant programs that funded 22 small businesses. We were recipients of a NY Main Street Program that provided incentives to 10 property owners to invest in their building facades – including some of our most historic properties – The Historic Palace Theatre, the Old Post Office, and Old City Hall to name a few.
Developing and maintaining strong relationships with our leaders in County, State and Federal Government is of great importance to me. In the past two and a half years, we’ve brought in over $13.5 million in new state and federal funds to the City of Lockport. This has enabled us to improve infrastructure; enhance the Erie Canal; support business growth; improve historic buildings; maintain our roads, parks, water and sewer lines; and enhance public safety. All without overburdening our taxpayers. This amount of funding is unprecedented in the City of Lockport and our team will continue to make it a priority to bring our share of state and federal resources back to Lockport.
We have placed an increased emphasis on maintaining and improving our infrastructure in the City. This past year, we paved over 6 miles of city streets. While over the past three summers, we paved nearly 20 miles of streets. In addition, we’ve identified needed improvements in water and sewer and we’ve sought and obtained state grants to help fund the projects. Most notably, we were awarded a $3 million grant to replace two miles of our raw water line.
As you drive by city parks, you will notice that the deteriorating shingled roofs have been replaced with new green metal roofs that look much better and will last decades. We have finally turned the corner to be more proactive and less reactive, when it comes to public works projects. We are planning and preparing for infrastructure improvements that are needed and will plot the course for implementation.
Neighborhood Revitalization continues to be a priority for us. This year we tackled the problem of zombie and abandoned homes and were determined to come up with meaningful solutions. We established a task force to understand the full extent of the problem and subsequently we were able to secure funding to implement initiatives to address the blight associated with abandoned properties.
We have also taken the first step in turning our city’s property auction into one that prioritizes home ownership. We know that properties that are owner occupied often have a higher degree of care and attention paid to them. This will continue to be focus for us in the coming months.
We are pleased with the strides that our city government has made this year – our city continues to be financially stable, we are off the state’s fiscal distress list and we no longer run deficits, – in fact we have a reasonable fund balance and our cash flow is good.
Our police and fire departments handled some extremely difficult situations this year – from a robbery at the hospital to the largest fire in our city’s history – our dedicated staff ensured that the public was safe and the city protected – even in the most challenging of situations.
And we continue to strive to find ways to reduce the cost of city government – this is a priority each and every day.
One of our city’s greatest strengths is our rich history and culture. We are unique in many aspects and we continue to capitalize on our cultural heritage.
We especially are looking forward to the exciting events that the Kenan Center has planned as they celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.
This past year, Canal Street came even more alive as we completed the Locks Gateway project. As you walk on Canal Street you will notice the new historic stone signage indicating that you are in the Locks District. Our goal is to ensure that year by year we add value to the district and ensure that residents and visitors recognize they are in a truly special place when they go to the Locks District. This year we are thrilled to be adding our very own Durham Style boat to the Flight of Five Locks Demonstrations. This boat is being built by the Buffalo Maritime Center and numerous volunteers have put in long hours to build it. This new boat, called the “Erie Traveler” will enhance the demonstrations of the Flight of Five this summer.
Another success story that we can celebrate today is 57 Canal Street, which was saved years ago from demolition. This historic building directly across from the Flight of Five, was where the Harrison Radiator was first produced. The building was saved, rehabilitated and now is back in private hands, owned by Iskalo Development. Their private investment with lighting and façade improvements enhance Canal Street even further.
Lastly, 2017 is the bicentennial year of the construction of the Erie Canal. On July 4, 1817, the first shovel went in the ground to begin digging the Erie Canal. I have some exciting news to share with all of you. In celebration of the Canal’s Bicentennial year, the NYS Canal Corporation has selected Lockport for an amazing event. I’m thrilled to announce that The Albany Symphony Orchestra will be coming to Lockport for a special performance. They will perform for us right in the Erie Canal near the locks – aboard a special flotilla. At the conclusion of the performance, we will have a fireworks display. This exciting night being planned for July 8 is in conjunction with our partners at the Canal Corp and Power Authority. We could not be more proud to be selected as one of only 5 legacy cities throughout NYS for what will be a spectacular evening.
As we begin 2017 – we remain optimistic that Lockport is on the rise – and we have much to look forward to this year. It’s fitting that in this year, the bicentennial year of the construction of the Erie Canal, which set the course for our great city – we can state with full confidence how bright our future really is.
I am truly honored to serve the City of Lockport as your Mayor. I thank you for being here and God Bless.
IMAGE AT TOP IS FROM THE MAYOR’S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS IN 2016.