NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - State and local leaders are looking for more ideas to draw visitors to the Cataract City.
Heber Rivera, who was visiting Niagara Falls, NY from Queens, said, "It's not as appealing as it is in Canada. I just came yesterday to visit, and you know... it was kind of dead."
It's attitudes like that, that the Downtown Niagara Falls Development Challenge aims to change. Over the next five years, the city and the state are each offering $20 million in incentives to developers who come up with the best ideas for new tourist attractions.
The whole point is to get more out-of-town visitors to stay, play, and spend.
Mayor Paul Dyster said, "There are a lot of positive things happening in downtown Niagara Falls. We took down the Wintergarden; restored Old Falls Street. We've built the Culinary Institute. We've got approval now for the Hamister development. We're working on Rainbow Mall. But one of the things that we recognize is that there are just not enough fun things for people to do."
We asked tourists as well as residents what downtown Niagara Falls is missing.
Resident Debbie Skwirz, who moved to the Falls from Rhode Island years ago, said, "They need to bring something geared towards families. Not only adults, but more so towards children. Miniature golf, hands-on museums, attractions like that."
Rivera added, "Music... restaurants... nightclubs..."
"You know what they need? They need a big sports arena. Like a baseball team, a Major League Baseball team," said resident Tim Campigotto. "I'd [also] like to see another mall open up down here, you know?"
And Kenneth Hernley from Lebanon, PA said, "It'd be nice to see them clean out the outskirts of the city. Clean it up a little, make it a little more presentable to the tourists."
Mayor Dyster agrees, more family-friendly activities are needed.
"I think what we're looking for here is creativity on the part of potential developers, helping people in Niagara Falls finally to realize the vision we have for a vibrant downtown," he said.
Niagara Falls' portion of the money is coming from casino revenue; New York State's is coming out of the Buffalo Billion.
The WNY Regional Economic Council will put the bids out in December, with responses due in January.
Town of Evans Police are asking the public for information about an abandoned puppy that was found on the side of Holland Road.
Customers filled the seats of Mom's Restaurant, in Niagara Falls, Thursday afternoon. The restaurant posted a sign saying that after 58 years they are closing their doors.
There is a hearing Thursday in Buffalo about the use of medical marijuana. So far 20 states and Washington D.C. allow it.
In an effort to combat childhood obesity, a local school district is now banning a popular sweet treat.
Local workers will be demonstrating outside of the McDonalds, on Main Street near Utica, Thursday at 5 p.m.
Sales tax revenues are on the rise in 2013, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.