What were they thinking?
Back in 2002, when the state of New York, under the leadership of then Gov. George Pataki, handed 50 prime acres of downtown Niagara Falls real estate to the Seneca Nation of Indians to settle the Grand Island land claim and allow the Seneca to open a tax free casino and hotel resort here, what was the logic?
Today, as dwindling casino revenues bite into the measly 25 percent of the slot machine take that Albany graciously allows the city to keep in return for police and fire protection, infrastructure and other amenities, and the Seneca recently announcing the opening of a tax free gasoline station and smoke shop to be opened downtown, many here are wondering how the powers that were could have entered into such a bad deal.
Stupidity and corruption of the part of city officials in Niagara Falls isn’t a recent development. It is a tradition that goes back to even before the founding of this great metropolis, on March 17, 1897.
In fact, things started going downhill as early as 1885, with the creation of the Niagara Reservation, now known as Niagara Falls State Park, which is generally recognized as the oldest state park in the country.
The 435 acre park, which offers breathtaking views of the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Canadian Falls, as well as overlooking the Niagara River Gorge and allowing access to the Upper Rapids was once part of the city.
The Hamister Hotel deal is exactly the sort of fiasco that makes Niagara Falls such a special place. Choose a politically connected “developer” who apparently doesn’t have any money, hand him a parcel of prime real estate for pennies on the dollar, along with tax breaks and other incentives, then sit back and watch the years roll by while absolutely nothing happens whatsoever.
What were they thinking?
Hamister got the nod nearly three years ago as the city’s preferred developer for what is known as Parcel Four, a vacant piece of land on Rainbow Boulevard around 150 yards away from the entrance to the state park. The deal had to be done quickly, he said, so that construction could begin in the early spring of 2014.
At the behest of the Niagara Falls City Council, the New York State Legislature created the city Water Board back in 2002. Locally, the primary cheerleader for spinning off the city’s water and wastewater treatment services was Paul Dyster, then a freshman Council member and now mayor of the city.
The board consists of five members, one appointed by the governor, one by the state Senate, one by the Assembly and one each appointed by the mayor and the Council.
In other words, Dyster and a majority of Council members, along with then mayor Irene Elia, thought it would be a great idea to give Albany effective control over the delivery of potable drinking water to the residents of Niagara Falls, as well as taking care of sewage treatment.
By Emma Gibbs
As another tourist season approaches, the New York State Parks Office is trying to fine tune a sale pitch explaining to some eight million annual visitors why the American side viewing area of the Horseshoe Falls is off limits.
Terrapin Point, located at the western end of Goat Island, has been cordoned off with chained link fence barricading visitors from the vista of the Falls and Lower Gorge.
The Parks is four years into a $50 million rehab project which includes renovations on Goat Island. At first glance, the project shows progress through the past winter. While numerous construction efforts on the Niagara Frontier have moved forward during the off season, the LiRo Group, prime contractor of the project, has little to show.
Later this month, and for the second time during his five years in office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make a decision that has enormous implications for the future of Western New York’s water resources. The Governor will either deny or support the application of the small city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, which lies outside the natural basin of the Great Lakes, to access water from Lake Michigan in order to replenish its rapidly depleting municipal water supply. While the city’s request has been winding its way through the regulatory pipeline for a number of years, the governor’s office has given no indication regarding his intentions in terms of whether or not, as one of eight Great Lake states governors with veto power over the proposal, he will vote to approve the unprecedented water diversion.
In addition to calling for the termination of Niagara Falls Water Board Executive Director Paul Drof, city Councilman Ken Tompkins has introduced a resolution with Councilman Ezra Scott asking that all five members of the Water Board by approved by the mayor and the Council, so as to regain city control of the municipal water supply and wastewater treatment facilities.
Currently, the governor, state Senate and Assembly name three of the board’s five members, with the Council and the mayor appointing the other two.
Please see the following statement from State Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I – North To-nawanda) regarding the State Senate’s Budget that seeks to prohibit local governments from adopting laws or policies that impede the enforcement of federal homeland secu-rity laws.
“New Yorkers are sick and tired of working hard, playing by the rules, and paying taxes only to see local, state, and federal politicians cower to reward illegal immigrants and those breaking our laws. Big cities across this nation are thumbing their noses at our rules, our laws, and our Constitution. It’s time that we take a stand, here in New York, and say ‘no more.’ I understand that liberal special interest groups and the illegals’ community in New York City have a problem with this, but I don’t care. If you’re a city in our state and if you refuse to follow our laws, then you shouldn’t receive funding from state taxpayers. It’s that simple.”
by Leo Zientara II
I do not know if this is something your paper is interested in covering, but no one at the water board cares so I thought maybe this would help
There is a broken water main under Pierce Ave right near Whirlpool. The leak has been there for about two years. The neighbors have called multiple times and the water board and city hall are well aware of the issue. There are holes on both sides of the street where the water comes up. There is only so much water coming up, however I am sure it is soaking into the dirt under the road. We are talking about thousands of dollars’ worth of water. At this point the end of the concrete slab at the end of 721 pierce is starting to sink into the ground. The holes where the water comes up are about 6 inches deep and into loose gravel. The asphalt around them is caving in. The city cannot even fill the holes be-cause it is constantly under water.
By Emma Gibbs
Nowhere in either his proposed or adopted 2016 Budgets did Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster have the courage to introduce the plan he now wants to ask the City Council to approve sometime in April.
You read it here first.
Niagara Falls’ Chief Executive has plans to present an agenda item asking the Council to sanction additional spending not authorized in any municipal spending plan.
According to city hall sources, Dyster plans to create a new job title for his current secretary, Nick Melson, purportedly relieving Melson of the traditional duties assigned to a Mayor’s confidential secretary. The third term Mayor wants to name Melson as “Special Assistant to the Mayor” and give him a substantial raise.
By Emma Gibbs
The drama surrounding the NCAA basketball Final Fours, both Men’s and Women’s, approach what promises to be a frenzied finish.
On the Men’s side Oklahoma faces Villanova, while the surprising ‘tainted’’ Orange of Syracuse University meets up with the number one-seeded Tarheels of North Carolina.
The Women’s final quartet has Washington University battling the Lady Orange of Syracuse, while the ladies of Oregon State, the same group which eliminated local sweetheart St. Bonaventure in the second round, locks up with the undefeated, top-ranked ladies from the University of Connecticut.