Niagara Falls Zoom Program Stronger Than Ever After Director Gets Arrested

May 3, 2011 Updated May 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

May 3, 2011 Updated May 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM EDT

Clarence Bradley was the Director of the City of Niagara Falls Zoom Team, a group consisting of different city agencies working to clean up the area. Then last month, he was arrested after city officials found that he had been collecting unemployment money while on the job.

"He's unpaid administrative leave," Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said.

Despite the loss of Bradley, the program is up and running. Officials said it is stronger than ever.

"We want to make sure each year it becomes more effective and touches new neighborhoods each year," Dyster said.

They kicked the program off with a press conference, Tuesday morning. Then, team members went to each house on the 500th block of 19th street. They wrote citations for homes that had trash in the yard, the houses that were vacant and unstable and they even gave warnings to homes on the verge of becoming an eyesore.

"This is an initiative to bring about restoration of the neighborhoods, revitalization. Showing residents that people care about the neighborhoods in which they live," President of the Niagara Falls Block Council Roger Spurback said.

The Zoom program is part of the city's Public Works Department. There are many other agencies involved including city officials, the police department, Sheriff's Office and fire officials, among others.

"We wanted to have everybody on the scene that's required to deal with any problem that exists in the neighborhood," Dyster said.

Resident Jeffrey Wynn said the Zoom team not only improves the look of the neighborhood but it does something even more important.

"The clean up is a necessity and it stops some of the crime in this area," Wynn said.

Niagara Falls Police Chief John Cella agrees that is the trend.

"As a neighbor goes up with stable residents and better environment we tend to see crime go down," Cella said.

They said the program is on the right track and ready to roll, thanks to the effort of all these agencies coming together to make a change.