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Niagara Falls
Monday, April 15, 2024
Letter to the editor: Randwood developer’s arguments are solely self-serving


Dear editor:

Your news story from a presentation to town councillors, “Randwood owner denies demolition by neglect,” The Lake Report, July 11, contains a number of items that in my opinion raise several questions and calls for a response.

a) SORE (Save Our Rand Estate) is a grassroots organization that is supported by and represents the opinions of a large group of local and nearby residents who are concerned about the loss of cultural and heritage assets in Niagara-on-the-Lake due to insensitive and inappropriate development, as is the case at Randwood. It is not simply a small group of local activists.

b) The alleged flood damage took place in January, yet only now is it being reported. There should be an explanation for this delay.

c) Thomas Richardson, representing Two Sisters (Solmar), denies any claim of demolition by neglect and instead argues that his client has maintained the property under the Ontario Heritage Act and that the buildings have heating, air conditioning and municipal water. He further argues that the cleanup will not cause damage to the heritage features. (This is now six months after the event took place.)

However, this is in visible contrast to a letter dated June 25, 2018, in which Two Sisters determined that no heritage of significant value exists due to neglect and issued a Notice of Intent to Demolish. 

This is an obvious contradiction that simply weakens the credibility of Solmar. 

d) Mr. Richardson claims that his client continues to look forward to working with the town and SORE  to resolve outstanding issues (whatever that means), while at the same time many see the issue as being fundamental and completely unresolved. However, in my opinion, developer Benny Marotta has little credibility due to his self-serving comments and past actions. Without credibility and trust, and having only his self-interest in mind, it is difficult to see any grounds for effective co-operation.

e) The report refers to a bylaw for demolition by neglect, for which there is an obvious need, but notes only that one may be coming.

f) Mr. Richardson claims that his client has been warned not to cut the grass to avoid damaging heritage features. How ridiculous.

g) In establishing a bylaw that prohibits demolition by neglect, Mr. Richardson and his opinion is surely not relevant.

At the end of the day, it is my opinion that Mr. Marotta has only his self-interest in mind and that is to construct a six-storey Holiday Inn complex in the middle of the Randwood estate without regard for the immediate neighbourhood or the town. Any reasonable compromise based on common sense seems unlikely.                                                                                         

Derek Collins


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