NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Over the years, the City of Niagara Falls has lost some luster as the “Honeymoon Capital.” But Mayor Robert Restaino said he is about to change that with a five-point program to restore the city’s image.

If you have been to the Cataract City in recent years, you know the world-famous Niagara Falls are not all that get your attention. Dilapidated housing and teeth-rattling potholes are everywhere, but Mayor Restaino is promising to put that in the rearview mirror.

First in Restaino’s “Neighborhood Initiative:” A home improvement loan program providing low-interest loans up to $15,000 for homeowners to fix up their property.

“We hope that making these funds available to our residents will assist them in making the improvements I know they would like to make to their homes, and obviously that we would like for our residents to be able to afford to do,” said Mayor Restaino.

Homeowners would have 10 years to pay the loans back. With acres and acres of vacant lots, the mayor is also offering up 52 lots owned by the city for homeowners to add to their existing property.

“Having a garden, some private space, build a garage, put in a pool. All those things that they might otherwise be limited in doing because of their current lot size,” he added.

Those pock-marked streets in many parts of the city, Restaino puts much of the blame on broken sewer laterals, which he said are the responsibility of property owners. The city is offering loans to homeowners with limited household incomes, with the city doing most of the work.

“We will go about the business of making sure that the contractor is paid. In order to qualify you have to have proof of ownership of your home, your property taxes must be paid in full,” the mayor said.

The mayor is also working on improving the city’s 311 information line, which can also be accessed through a smartphone portal.

“We have a lot of complaints in the city of old infrastructure, trees down. When residents can call that line now and get a response and understand what is going on with their request, I think that improves their quality of life,” said John Spanbauer, chairman, City Council.

“Niagara Falls is starting to reinvent itself. There’s good bones to a lot of the homes that are here in the community. It’s a great place to start a family. I think programs like this help attract people into the city,” added Traci Bax, councilmember, City Council.

Niagara Falls is also launching a new text alert program, on an opt-in basis. Residents can get instant alerts about street repairs, youth and senior programs, and out-of-town family members can even keep up-to-date with loved ones living in the city.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.