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Cost of Niagara Falls sculpture climbs to $585k

Posted at 5:40 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 17:40:57-04

A public sculpture is on its way to a downtown traffic roundabout, but the cost of the project is causing some in the city to question the decision.  The city recently requested an additional $150,000 needed to relocate water lines beneath Centennial Circle.

The project is being funded through the Niagara River Greenway Commission and USA Niagara Development Corp.  A committee with the Greenway approved the extra funding earlier today.  The sculpture was originally expected to be unveiled this summer, but with the recent issues city officials hope they'll complete the project by the end of 2016.

Barbara Hill lives in Niagara Falls and works as a tour guide near Centennial Circle.  She notices drivers have a difficult time managing the traffic roundabout and worries a sculpture will only make it more dangerous.

"I think it might be distracting to drivers," she said.  "They might be trying to look at a statue if it's in the center.  I think it's just going to create more accidents."

Council member Kenny Tompkins agrees with Hill.  He wasn't on the council when the project was originally approved, but he voted against the additional funding last week.  Tompkins wants to see the Greenway funds used in other ways.

"With the condition the city is in, I would much rather see the money spent on sidewalks," he said.  "Half a million dollars can go an awful long way for a lot of sidewalk repair, maybe a couple roads being paved.  Do some more work on the potholes."

Hill is happy the city is trying to make Niagara Falls a nicer place to live, but doesn't think adding a sculpture is what they should focus on.

"There are better things that money could be put for," she said.  "Do more landscaping down here.  Make it more tourist friendly."

Tompkins would like the Niagara Falls Water Board to pick up the cost of moving water lines beneath Centennial Circle.  He says the board has a "$6.2 million surplus" and thinks the group should become involved in the project.