You go to New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle or New Orleans, and you'll find street vendors downtown, selling everything from hot dogs to sunglasses to umbrellas if it's raining.
They're part of the economy, part of the streetscape and part of the culture that lends an air of cosmopolitanism to the city centers.
In downtown Niagara Falls, the attitude has been to harass sidewalk vendors, generally in order to protect the nonexistent businesses located in our downtown area.
Aside from the One Niagara property and the hot-dog stand in front of Player's Lounge, street vendors have been rarer than hen's teeth in the downtown area.
God forbid some enterprising man or woman should try to make a buck here without the bums at City Hall getting to wet their beaks.
And so the City Council is expected to pass a new law that will limit where vendors can set up to that largely vacant expanse known as Old Falls Street, created at great expense to the city and state taxpayers a couple years ago.
The vast empty plaza -- it's not a street at all -- was built without anyone in charge having given a moment's thought to what to do with it.
Consequently, tourists can be found wandering around, trying the locked doors on the Conference Center Niagara Falls on one side and the Sheraton or the Crowne Plaza or Holiday Inn Select or the Radisson or the Hilton or whatever they're calling the hotel across from the casino this week on the other.
"I have confidence that this new ordinance will be good for business, good for our visitors and a win for our residents, as our downtown is made more attractive and inviting," City Council
Chairman Sam Fruscione said.
We're not so sure.
We think that if anyone at City Hall had the slightest idea about what would be good for business, Niagara Falls wouldn't be in the shape it's in.
The new ordinance will certainly be good for one thing, though. It will create a new "part-time" position in city government, much in the way that the Council's recent passage of an ordinance requiring landlords to register with the city created a job for longtime Fruscione hanger-on Randy Ubriaco.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||April 12, 2011|