NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The people of Niagara Falls spoke loudly Friday night in opposition to a proposed lodge being built on Goat Island at Niagara Falls State Park, and their voices were heard.
Officials say the state is re-writing its request for proposals for the project so other properties in the city can be considered.
"There will be an RFP (request for proposals) issued that includes multiple locations for consideration for a lodge within the four state parks in Niagara Falls, including Goat Island," said Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner. "There will be a robust public input period for public to weigh in on how best to proceed.”
Residents spent hours taking turns explaining why the state should build the lodge in the city limits rather than inside the park.
"One of our main concerns as residents is increasing tax revenue to the city and increasing traffic to local businesses, and what we've seen is when tourists come in on two parkways to kind of avoid the city, they're staying in the park rather than coming into the city," said Chris Borgatti.
"On top of that, Frederick Olmstead's vision for Goat Island was never to commercialize,” said Mark Diodate.
Some even felt that plans for a lodge should be scrapped all together. Bill Kennedy is a limousine driver, who takes clients all over Niagara Falls. He says the last thing the city needs is another hotel.
"There's ample lodging here in Niagara Falls. I drive professionally. I bring people from all airports in the area to Niagara Falls on a daily basis. I know that these lodges and hotels are not full every single day," Kennedy said.
Near the end of public comment, Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti says she received a message from a Cuomo administration aide, saying that the state is willing to consider other locations for a lodge.
She says the state also plans to hold multiple public comment sessions to make sure everyone's opinion is heard.
Mayor Paul Dyster says the state has shown its willingness in the past to change course in Niagara Falls, most recently with the location of the State Parks Police Barracks.
"That was originally proposed to go right on the lip of the gorge. When people spoke out and said, ‘no, no that's not the right place,’ the state quickly backed off of that. The thing is built, it's in operation today, and there are no issues because they moved it to a different location," Dyster said.
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, Grandinetti drafted a resolution, asking the Cuomo administration to cease plans for further development on Goat Island.
After receiving the new information from the state, she wanted to tweak it before calling for a vote.
"I wanted to table it and re-write it so that it could include looking at other properties and also making sure that we have public opinion," Grandinetti said.
The council declined that motion to table, and subsequently voted unanimously in favor of Grandinetti's original proposal.
There's no word yet on when requests for proposals will go out for the project.