A dream turned reality celebrated at Pinnacle North – Daily Messenger – mpnnow.com

A dream turned reality celebrated at Pinnacle North

by: Denise Champagne

Assemblyman Kolb at the Canandaigua development: “If you build it, they will come”

CANANDAIGUA — The movie “Field of Dreams,” was on the mind of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb this weekend as he thought about the Pinnacle North project and what it will become.

At the ribbon cutting Monday, Kolb drew an analogy from the movie, paraphrasing the film’s most famous line of dialogue and telling a large group of developers, civic leaders, staff and community members, “If you build it, they will come.”

Kolb noted the film’s Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), an Iowa farmer who heard voices telling him to build a baseball diamond in his corn field, also had a lot of naysayers — but like the people involved in the Pinnacle North project, he took his vision from a dream to reality.

“It’s teamwork, and the best is yet to come,” Kolb said, standing beneath a large white tent behind the newly opened Young Lion Brewing Co. “This is just the beginning. It’s just been very rewarding for me to play a small part with all the partners involved in this project.”

The multi-phase, mixed-use project is being designed and developed by Morgan-LeChase Development LLC, a joint venture between Morgan Management LLC and LeChase Construction Services LLC formed in 2013 when plans were first announced to develop a 21-acre parcel on the north side of Lakeshore Drive, across from Kershaw Park.

The first phase includes luxury living quarters at Pinnacle North Apartments, which people started moving into in March; Young Lion Brewing Co., which opened last month; Abbott’s Frozen Custard, which opened Memorial Day; and the soon-to-open restaurant of Three Brothers Winery & Estates.

Reflecting on a rainy weekend, former state Senator Michael Nozzolio, who worked with developers and civic leaders from the project’s inception, said he thought Kolb came up with a great metaphor and joked he was worried he might have used Noah’s Ark.

Nozzolio, who did not seek re-election last November, said working with people on projects is what he misses most about no longer being in the state Senate.

“The Finger Lakes is not just a great place to visit,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place to live, it’s a wonderful place to work and it’s a wonderful place to raise your family.”

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Housing market remains steady here, area experts say – rbj.net

Housing market remains steady here, area experts say

by: Kerry Feltner

The housing market in Rochester remains steady with increased sales of new homes, home building in demand, and low mortgage rates, officials said Thursday.

But 2017 has presented some challenges to home building—mainly weather.

“We’re status quo,” said Rick Herman, CEO of the Rochester Home Builders’ Association. “The homebuilding industry is active right now, we’re doing very well, we’re seeing increases but our biggest problem right now is getting into the ground, pulling permits and staying dry.”

The Rochester Home Builders’ Association has reported increases in building permit applications during the first half of 2017.

Total building permits for Monroe, Ontario and Wayne counties were similar to the first half of 2016 with 344 single-family homes and 212 multi-family homes.

Ontario County had a small decrease to 132 building permits and Wayne County also had a slight decrease to 27 total permits, according to officials.

“It’s kind of a catch-22 system that we’re in: low inventory, which is always good for new construction, but then the weather and somewhat of a labor shortage,” Herman said. “There was so much pent-up demand on housing and so much that was going on in the markets after the recession that things are really starting to boom.”

Some hotspots for building locally include areas of the city that are being looked at for redevelopment and in the suburbs of Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford, Victor, Canandaigua, Farmington, Ogden, Parma and Webster, according to Herman. In comparison, areas that are not as active in building currently are around Gates and Irondequoit.

The earlier predictions for 2017 are largely panning out.

“We projected earlier in the year that 2017 would be similar to 2016 and I think with only a couple of permits being ahead of the game that just proves that we guessed right,” Herman said. “You never know—we don’t have a crystal ball, but we anticipate the year end will be pretty similar to 2016 and when we look at 2017 and then we see a little bit further of an increase in 2018.”

Issues for builders include a labor shortage—in the hundreds locally—for framers and masons. Compared to national rates, Rochester looks good in that regard, Herman says.

“I think we’re doing better than nationally,” he said. “We always kid about it we’re the steady Eddie of the real estate market and we do well. We’re probably at the hundreds of missing some masons and some framers and that, but you go to a larger metropolitan market and they’re really hurting.”

Sales of new homes gone up throughout the year, officials say. The home improvement and remodeling industry has also seen a strong increase in contracts the last 24 months.

“We have experienced a very active buying and building year,” said Joseph Sortino of Sortino Properties Inc. and chairman of the Rochester Home Builders’ Association in a statement. “Weather is always a factor in new home construction and this year has been a challenge. Unusual amounts of rain have caused re-scheduling of site work which causes delays. The demand from home buyers for newly constructed homes has been very strong again this year.”

Home buying and building is in demand; there are higher sales prices and homes for sale are receiving multiple offers. The trend is expected to continue due to the creation of more jobs and low mortgage rates, officials say.

Buyers are also open to more options.

“Buyers are becoming more competitive,” said Linda Wilson, president of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors. “They’re getting preapproved, they know how much they can afford, they’re usually working more with realtors now because realtors can get them in there quickly and they’re being more prepared than ever before.”

Monroe County has a decline in the number of proprieties on the market in relation to last year.

“For the last couple of years we’ve seen historically low and trending down number of homes for sale and that creates lots of competition for the homes that are listed, which is an inhibitor to people actually getting into a home,” said Jim Yockel, CEO of GRAR. “Last year a lot of buyers became frustrated and just left the market completely.  (They) came back in the spring and it was just a super competitive market again.

“There are plenty of qualified, interested, anxious buyers who just can’t find a house that’s available,” he added.

Regional markets have had sales increases year-over-year.

  • Wayne (+4.5 percent)
  • Genesee (+12 percent)
  • Allegany (+52.4 percent)
  • Steuben Counties (+15.7 percent)

There were 1,597 houses available during the 2017 second quarter in Monroe County—down 37.5 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Housing market remains steady here, area experts say

Rents are more affordable in Rochester – rbj.net

Rents are more affordable in Rochester

by: Kerry Feltner

Rochester has more affordable rents than other cities across the country, a study by Apartment List Inc. found.

Rent growth here has remained stable in 2017 where other cities  have had increases and a small amount of cities have seen rents decline.

Rochester’s median two-bedroom rent of $920 is below the national average of $1,160, the report found. Nationwide, rents have grown by 2.9 percent over the past year.

While rents in Rochester remained moderately stable this year, other cities saw increases, including Seattle—up by 5.6 percent; Phoenix, up by 5 percent; and Dallas, up by 2.9 percent. Median two-bedroom rents in these cities go for $1,710, $1,020 and $1,110.

San Francisco has a median rent of $3,060—more than three times the price in Rochester.

The full Rent Report on Rochester can be found here.

Rents are more affordable in Rochester

Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins helped by Veterans Affairs, donations from community – foxnews.com

Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins helped by Veterans Affairs, donations from community

by: Travis Fedschun

Clifford and Gary Koekoek, 84-year-old twins who’ve survived fighting in the jungles of Vietnam and ended up sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home, say they’re “grateful” for the outpouring of support they’ve received since their story went national.

Born in the Netherlands, Clifford and Gary grew up under Nazi rule before coming to the U.S., where the brothers worked in Hollywood and then served their new country at war. But the brothers faced a new challenge in October, when they ended up sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home.

Since sharing their story with FOX 40 Sacramento, multiple homeless advocate organizations and Veterans Affairs reached out Friday to provide the twins with housing.

“These two gentlemen spent a lot of time out on the street struggling before we were able to make that connection, but we’re glad we were able to make it today,” said Ben Avey with Sacramento Steps Forward, a nonprofit agency with the goal to end homelessness in the region.

In addition to the new outreach, more than 2,500 strangers have also donated money to the brothers through a GoFundMe page, which totaled more than $101,000 as of Sunday.

“It made me proud to be an American citizen, that there are so many good people,” Clifford told FOX 40. In a previous interview, the twin said the situation was “a lot of stress” while holding back tears, adding: “I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap.”

Gary said the response to their situation has been “unbelievable.” “I feel grateful,” he said.

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Rochester’s lead law spurs success; Toledo tries similar effort – toledoblade.com

Rochester’s lead law spurs success; Toledo tries similar effort

by: Lauren Lindstrom

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — At the end of a hours-long meeting that ran late into the night, city council members in Rochester unanimously voted in December, 2005, to adopt a controversial and novel ordinance aimed at reducing the number of children poisoned by lead in the city.

Now more than a decade and 141,000 inspections later, the number of children tested with lead poisoning in Rochester is less than a third of what it was the year the law passed.

“All of us feel a sense of ownership of this, that we did this together,” said Wade Norwood, whose last act in his 15-year tenure on Rochester council was to ensure the lead ordinance passed. “This was taking the city into uncharted territory.”

Rochester’s lead law has served as a model for health and environmental researchers across the country, as well as municipalities looking for a model to follow, including Toledo.

A city of about 210,000 in upstate New York, Rochester had more than 1,000 children test positive with lead poisoning in 2003, two years before the ordinance passed. County health officials there identified children with blood lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter or greater, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s level of concern at the time.

In Lucas County in 2015, there were 285 children with confirmed lead levels at or above the CDC’s current poisoning threshold of five micrograms or greater, a level that was revised after researchers determined lead exposure has caused damage in smaller quantities than previously known. Another 211 children tested with preliminary elevated levels, but did not receive a second confirmatory test.

Efforts by local health and advocacy groups prompted Toledo City Council to approve in August, 2016, a first-in-Ohio lead ordinance requiring landlords of older rental properties to test for lead, legislation modeled after Rochester.

Among the myriad health issues associated with lead poisoning according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: damage to a child’s brain and nervous system, slow growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

Rochester’s Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, along with health and political officials, based their city’s law on prevention.

“Once a kid has lead in their blood, it affects how their bodies and brains develop; you can’t readily undo that damage. We’re really focused on preventing exposure in the first place,” said Katrina Korfmacher, an associate professor in the department of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a member of the coalition since 2001.

“To do that, you really need policy change because we as a society allowed lead to be painted all over our older housing stock.” she said. “It’s not the fault of the people who live there now; it’s not the fault of the people who own the housing now; it’s a problem we all allowed to happen. But in order to keep that lead from getting into kids, we need to maintain housing in good condition so the paint is intact, so that you don’t have lead dust on the floors so it can get in kids’ mouths.”

Much like changes in laws and practices that now require seat belts or discourage smoking while pregnant, a better scientific understanding of lead’s danger should prompt policy change, said coalition member Elizabeth McDade, who is also ‎program coordinator for the Rochester Safe and Efficient Homes Initiative.

“Our law was based upon the idea that you can’t rent a property, a home to children that has a neurotoxin in it,” she said. “You can’t open a restaurant that has a bubbling cauldron of biohazard in the middle of the restaurant floor, they won’t let you do that. We know what the [lead] issue is, we know how to fix it, let’s do that.”

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There are more renters than any time since 1965 – cnbc.com

There are more renters than any time since 1965

  • More U.S. households are headed by renters than at any point since at least 1965.
  • However, the top renter regret is not buying.

by: Abigail Summeville

There are more renters than any time since 1965 from CNBC.

More people are renting than at any other point in the past 50 years.

In 2016, 36.6 percent of household heads rented their home, close to the 1965 number of 37 percent, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center based on data from the Census Bureau. Each month the Census Bureau surveys a nationally representative sample of households.

The total number of U.S. households grew by 7.6 million over the past decade, Pew reported. However, the number of households headed by owners remained relatively flat, while households headed by renters grew by nearly 10 percent during the same time period.

Rising home prices, lingering fears from the housing crash, and larger amounts of student debt are some of the reasons why many Americans see the appeal of renting, said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew and one of the report’s authors.

“There is some evidence that increased student debt has made it more difficult for households headed by young adults to become homeowners,” Fry said.

And millennials (those age 35 and younger) continue to be the most likely of all age groups to rent, Pew found. In 2016, 65 percent of households headed by young adults were renting, up 8 percentage points from 2006.

Other reasons could be that young adults haven’t accumulated enough wealth for a down payment on a house, Fry said. Also, owning a home inhibits moving, and young adults are the most likely age group to move, so they may prefer not to own just yet, he said.

The happy homeowner

However, cautious renters may not be making the best decision for their long-term happiness. Renters’ top regret was wishing they had bought instead of renting (41 percent), according to a recent Trulia survey.

“One thing our research has found is that people can sometimes be a little too cautious,” said Trulia’s managing editor, David Weidner. “In every U.S. major market, it’s cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent over seven years. And it’s really not even close.”

Housing prices have been rising, with the median value of all homes in the U.S. in June surpassing $200,000, up 7 percent from a year ago. In the long run though, buying is still a better deal than renting, said Weidner.

People must realize that although a mortgage seems like a huge investment, your incomes are likely to rise, especially if you’re a millennial, Weidner said, and over time the housing payment won’t seem as big.

“The toughest times [after buying a house] is in those first few years. Down the road those costs will start to shrink as part of the overall home budget,” Weidner said.

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Anti-poverty initiative to get millions in funding -rbj.net

Anti-poverty initiative to get millions in funding

by: Velvet Spicer

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative will receive nearly $5 million to support the expansion of early childhood anti-poverty initiatives.

The programs target children and caregivers in the city of Rochester pilot neighborhoods targeted by the initiative, including the EMMA neighborhood of East Main, Mustard and Atlantic Avenue; Beechwood; and Marketview Heights.

“Fighting poverty and providing opportunity to all New Yorkers is a top priority of this administration,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Through these strategic investments and collaborative community efforts we are helping to ensure young New Yorkers receive quality care, access to new learning opportunities and are moving the Finger Lakes Forward toward a more equitable and prosperous future.”

Finger Lakes Forward is the region’s strategic plan to grow the economy and create new opportunities for businesses and the community.

The two-year anti-poverty pilot program will include home visiting, summer learning and child care initiatives.

The Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding will support a two-year demonstration program totaling up to $4.75 million. The Office of Children and Family Services will administer $3 million to expand child care subsidies through Monroe County, while the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, via the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and its Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will administer $1.08 million for the summer learning program and $675,000 for expanded home visitation efforts.

“The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative is committed to creating systems change and addressing the root causes of poverty, and this is a great step in that direction,” RMAPI director Leonard Brock said in a statement. “In an effort to not only reduce poverty, but break the cycle of poverty affecting so many of our residents, it is imperative that we take a dual-generational approach that supports the youngest and neediest of our population, the children. I am thrilled by the state’s commitment to support these children and invest in the long-term outcomes for our community.”

Officials noted that for children in poverty, exposure to violence, poor diet and lack of mental stimulation contribute to higher rates of teen parenthood and school drop-out rates. RMAPI was created in 2015 to develop new and innovate ways to reduce poverty.

“United Way is thrilled to serve as partner and catalyst for this community investment,” United Way president and CEO Fran Weisberg said. “We’re proud to work side by side with RMAPI and our program partners to attack poverty from all angles, and we appreciate New York State and Governor Cuomo’s commitment to helping us rebuild our region into a healthy, productive, thriving community.”

Anti-poverty initiative to get millions in funding

Two major lending changes mean it’s suddenly easier to get a mortgage – cnbc.com

Two major lending changes mean it’s suddenly easier to get a mortgage

by: Diana Olick

  • The nation’s three major credit rating agencies, EquifaxTransUnion and Experian, will drop tax liens and civil judgments from some consumers’ profiles if the information isn’t complete.
  • Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are allowing borrowers to have higher levels of debt and still qualify for a home loan.
  • These changes come at a time when lenders are competing for a shrinking market of borrowers.

Two major changes in the mortgage market go into effect this month, and both could help millions more borrowers qualify for a home loan. The changes will also add more risk to the mortgage market.

First, the nation’s three major credit rating agencies, EquifaxTransUnion and Experian, will drop tax liens and civil judgments from some consumers’ profiles if the information isn’t complete. Specifically, the data must include the person’s name, address, and either date of birth or Social Security number. A sizeable number of liens and judgments do not include this information and have subsequently caused some misrepresentations and mistakes.

Of about 220 million Americans with a credit profile, approximately 7 percent have liens or civil judgments against them. With these hits to their credit removed, their scores could go up by as much as 20 points, according to a study by credit rating firm Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO).

“It’s a significant impact for still a very large number of people,” said Thomas Brown, senior vice president of financial services at LexisNexis, who is concerned that the move will add significant risk to the mortgage system.

“If you look at someone that has a tax lien or a civil judgment, they can be anywhere from two to more than five times more risky just because of the presence of that information,” he said. “That’s very, very significant.”

Credit reports, however, can have mistakes on them that end up sidelining consumers from qualifying for loans. Twenty percent of consumers have at least one mistake on one of their three credit reports, according to a Federal Trade Commission study. The concern is that those who do have legitimate liens and judgments against them will get credit that is undeserved.

“It doesn’t really do a consumer well to be extended credit that they can’t afford, they can’t reasonably service,” said Brown.

In addition to the FICO changes, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are allowing borrowers to have higher levels of debt and still qualify for a home loan. The two are raising their debt-to-income ratio limit to 50 percent of pretax income from 45 percent. That is designed to help those with high levels of student debt. That means consumers could be saddled with even more debt, heightening the risk of default, but the argument for it appears to be that risk in the market now is unnecessarily low.

“In this case, we’re changing the underwriting criteria, and we think the additional increment of risk for making that change is very small,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “Given how pristine credit has been post-crisis, we don’t feel that is an unreasonable risk to take.”

During the last housing boom, anyone with a pulse could get a mortgage, but after the financial crisis, underwriting rules tightened significantly. As a result, current default rates on loans made in the last eight years are lower than historical norms. At the same time, younger borrowers with high levels of student loan debt are being left out of the housing recovery, unable to qualify for a home loan. Duncan said a consumer’s debt level is just one of many factors considered by lenders when underwriting a mortgage.

“We look at all the other criteria that are information rich, in terms of assessing that individual’s risk profile, and they have to look good in all those other areas,” he added.

The level of risk to the mortgage marketplace, banks and nonbank lenders alike, will rise. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still under government conservatorship, which means losses would be incurred by taxpayers.

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RAINING MONEY: Some NY communities could fund budgets with casino fees – stargazette.com

RAINING MONEY: Some NY communities could fund budgets with casino fees

by: Amanda Renko

Windfalls of cash don’t come to the Town of Nichols very often.

The 2,700-resident, largely agricultural Tioga County community has operated on a shoestring budget of about $1.5 million for years.

So when it received a $1 million payment in 2016 from the license fee Tioga Downs paid to the state to become a full-fledged casino in December, Town Supervisor Kevin Engelbert thought of a few things that needed attention.

A new tandem-axle truck and wheeled excavator replaced 25-year-old highway equipment. The Cady Library, a landmark dating back to the 1820s, was slated for safety and energy efficiency upgrades. Long-neglected roads will be widened and given a fresh surface. And, Engelbert says, residents will get some tax relief, too.

So far this year — through the end of May — casino taxes for Nichols totaled nearly $600,000. On an annual basis, particularly with warmer weather luring out gamblers, the fees from Tioga Downs could equal the full town budget.

In northern Seneca County, the Town of Tyre recently began reaping the monetary rewards of the new del Lago Resort and Casino, which opened in February. So far, Tyre has generated monthly revenues ranging from $175,000 to more than $211,000.

And the new-found deluge of money doesn’t stop with the host communities. Counties that include Broome and Chemung are getting casino money.

Despite the influx of cash, many local leaders say they’ll use their quarterly checks to fill gaps in their budgets, instead of going all in with one-time expenses.

The money locals get comes from a tax the state imposes on the gross gaming revenues of the three non-Indian casinos to open so far — Tioga Downs, del Lago, and Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady.

New York imposes a tax of 37 percent on casinos’ gross gaming revenues — the difference between players’ bets and wins, minus any promotional credits given out — for slots and electronic table games, and 10 percent on revenues from table games.

New York retains 80 percent of the Tioga funds for statewide education and property tax relief. In April, that figure came to $1.55 million, leaving nearly $400,000 for distribution to the host town and county and surrounding counties.

April’s payouts netted $97,213 for the Town of Nichols and Tioga County, $104,347 for Broome County, $52,831 for Tompkins County, $21,639 for Chemung County, $10,412 for Wayne County and $5,196 for Schuyler County.

The surrounding counties receive even more money from del Lago, which in April had $13.15 million in total gross gaming revenues — more than twice that of Tioga Downs.

The payouts add up for communities facing declining revenues in recent years from sales tax drops, tax base stagnation and a state-imposed property tax cap.

 Having the $460 million del Lago instantly boosted Seneca County’s total assessed value by about 20 percent.

To County Manager John Sheppard, that boost — and the ongoing revenues the county stands to receive from gaming taxes — represents the only path to staying under its tax cap. Without it, there’s “no way we’d be compliant with the tax cap expectation,” he said.

The revenues generated by building del Lago in the 35,000-person county — and the economic development implications beyond the facility’s February opening — could provide a boost to a struggling rural area, Sheppard said.

Through May 30, the county had received $764,766 in ongoing gaming funds. Seneca’s 2017 general fund budget included $1.5 million in anticipated revenues that are planned to fund general operations. Sheppard says he’ll likely recommend budgeting the money for operations again in 2018, with little choice if he wants to stay under the tax cap.

“With (gaming revenues), that doesn’t eliminate all the other complications of governance,” Sheppard said. “We’re still watching every dollar.”

The New York Comptroller’s Office doesn’t have specific recommendations on how municipalities should spend their casino revenues, and they aren’t subject to special oversight, said spokesman Brian Butry.

However, becoming too reliant on non-recurring revenues could open a municipality to scrutiny, Butry said.

A 2013 comptroller’s office audit of the City of Niagara Falls highlights how funding general operations with casino revenues could backfire.

In 2009, a dispute between the Seneca Nation and the state resulted in the suspension of payments of a portion of gaming revenues to the state and city.

Niagara Falls officials expected the dispute to be settled quickly and began to use its fund balance to finance expenses previously covered by casino funds. Even as the dispute dragged on, the city continued budgeting for those revenues, leading to a fund balance deficit of about $5.2 million by the end of 2012, according to the report.

Lowering residents’ overall property tax burden is a more responsible use for the funds than new spending, said Ken Girardin of the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy.

“Every local government’s situation is different, but they all need to resist the urge to add new unrelated spending. For one thing, there’s no certainty about how much casino revenue can be counted even one year out,” Girardin said.

Many municipalities “have old road and water infrastructure that could present sudden costs down the line, so it makes more sense to place money in reserves than to spend it on amenities,” he added.

Schuyler, Wayne, Broome and Chemung counties are among those who’ve budgeted casino revenues for their general funds.

Broome County used an unbudgeted license fee payment of $3.7 million to cover budget shortfalls in 2016, said County Executive Jason Garnar. This year, the county’s budget includes $2.2 million in gaming revenues. Through May 30, the county had received $1.43 million.

Tioga County legislators will soon discuss where the $571,208 it’s received so far will go, said Martha Sauerbrey, chair of the county legislature. A $1 million license fee payment replenished a capital reserve account, and it’s possible the continued revenues would end up there, too.

 Chemung County will also offset increased expenses with the $1.32 million it budgeted in anticipated gaming revenues. However, $250,000 of that comes from the Seneca Nation, which stated earlier this year it will no longer make payments previously required in an agreement with the state.

“We might not get the $250,000. Right now, it doesn’t look good.” said Budget Director Steve Hoover. “If those funds don’t come in, we’re going to have a hole in our budget.”

So far, the county is slated to receive $297,384 from Tioga Downs and del Lago through May 30.

About 53 percent of residents, including much of the City of Elmira, falls west of Route 14, the dividing line between the Salamanca payments and the Tioga Downs and del Lago revenues.

“That hurts us because we have more than half our population included in a calculation with a more remote casino,” Hoover said. “It would have been a lot more beneficial to us if our entire population had been included.”

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Honolulu lawmaker proposes bill to have armed park rangers to deter homeless -foxnews.com

Honolulu lawmaker proposes bill to have armed park rangers to deter homeless

A state lawmaker is proposing stationing armed park rangers at Honolulu city parks, where homeless encampments are common, because of a growing amount of trash and safety concerns.

Residents have taken issue with piles of trash and smell they claim come from homeless encampments, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

Honolulu city Councilman Trevor Ozawa wants residents to vote on a 2018 City Charter amendment to place armed park rangers in the city’s biggest parks. The rangers would be able to address illegal camping, littering and vandalism and enforce no-smoking policies should the bill come to pass.

“We continue to see enforcement issues, continue to have issues with our homeless population in our parks, and need to make our children’s safety a priority,” Ozawa said. “We need to continue exploring ways of keeping our park users safe and our facilities free of vandalism and destruction.”

The city already has an unarmed park ranger program in place at Kapiolani Park, Hanauma Bay and the city’s most-used park, the Ala Moana Regional Park, said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. City park employees also have a new shift that runs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Jen Tema, who lives in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu, said she avoids passing through lookouts at Diamond Head Monument because of the overwhelming stench coming from the area.

Her son no longer surfs at the lookouts because of feces left in the water by homeless campers and her kids need to wear shoes instead of slippers over fears of discarded drug needles and used condoms on floors at parks, Tema said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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