Pavers in Niagara State Park an Ongoing Scandal Overpriced Granite a Taxpayer Rip-off

Three Sisters Islands was fenced and paved with expensive granite as part of the Niagara Falls State Park “Landscape Improvements” plan. Now it must be closed for several months of the year because people kept slipping and falling on the slippery stone.

Three Sisters Islands was fenced and paved with expensive granite as part of the Niagara Falls State Park “Landscape Improvements” plan. Now it must be closed for several months of the year because people kept slipping and falling on the slippery stone.

Two years ago this month, Reporter publisher Frank Parlato exposed in these pages what appeared to be a blatant case of bid-rigging perpetrated by the Saratoga Springs, NY-based LA Group, a landscape architecture firm chosen by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to implement portions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $50 million Niagara Falls State Park “Landscape Improvements” plan.

A large crack runs completely across this paver from left to right, while a shorter crack extends upwards in the photo. Small pebbles are accumulating in the deep crack at the center of the paver.

A large crack runs completely across this paver from left to right, while a shorter crack extends upwards in the photo. Small pebbles are accumulating in the deep crack at the center of the paver.

It turned out that LA Group tweaked the specifications for thousands of square feet of granite pavers to be used in park construction so that only one quarry in all of New York State, Champlain Stone, was in a position to meet those specs. For example, the “70 percent Hudson River blue… with red and black gar-net inclusions,” described a product available only through Champlain Stone. Contractors were required to factor in prices based on the purchase of the granite from Champlain Stone, at a cost of around $60 per square foot, far above the market rate of $20-$40 for similar quality granite.

Several local companies that supply granite pavers were subsequently passed over in favor of Cham-plain Stone, which is located a short drive away from Saratoga Springs, in Warrensburg, NY.

The Reporter also drew the curtain back on a revolving door that appears to exist between State Parks, LA Group and Champlain Stone among their various project managers, architects and quarry executives, including a husband and wife team who straddle the pliant ethical boundary between government and special interest that is so typical of the New York State scene, where corruption and crony capital-ism reign.

That would be a certain Stephen McCorkell of Saratoga Springs, NY, Albany-based project manager for the Niagara Falls State Park Landscape Improvements plan, and his wife, Lisa L. Tonneson-McCorkell, a Registered Landscape Architect at LA Group. Why this situation has not been looked into by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, or by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who disbanded the Moreland Commission he created to begin with to clean up state government, probably contributes in no small way to New York State’s perennially abysmal ranking among the states for business climate.

GraniteGate: At $60 a square foot, you’d think these pavers would last longer than a year or two.

GraniteGate: At $60 a square foot, you’d think these pavers would last longer than a year or two.

It’s important to note that it was Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster who, as Niagara Greenway Com-mission Vice-Chair, presided over the meeting, opened discussion and called the roll for the vote that culminated in the Commission’s approval of the Niagara Falls State Park Landscape Improvements plan. In retrospect, it’s clear that the mayor failed to insist that citizens of his own city get an opportunity to provide input to the plan. He also neglected to request that State Parks conduct economic impact studies to determine if expanding parking and vending in the park would negatively impact businesses in the city.

In addition, many millions of dollars are being funneled to LA Group and Champlain Stone of Saratoga Springs (over $3 million),  T Y Lin International Group of Rochester, NY (site engineering, MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) and structural engineering, for over $6 million), John W. Danforth Company of Tonawanda (over $2 million for renovations to the Niagara Falls State Park Visitor Center and administration building) and Ledge Creek Development of Clarence Center (over $1 million for bath-rooms and parking lot toll booths on Goat Island) .

The only company based in the city of Niagara Falls to garner a significant piece of the action in the Niagara Falls State Park was Yarussi Construction, Inc., at around $12 million. So when it comes to the $50 million being spent in the park, it doesn’t seem that Dyster tried very hard to make sure most of it stayed here.

Three adjacent pavers in the Niagara Falls State Park, all exhibiting cracks.

Three adjacent pavers in the Niagara Falls State Park, all exhibiting cracks.

Of the 35 separate campaign contributions totaling $7528 that Yarussi has lavished on local politicians over the last decade, $200 went to Friends of Paul Dyster.

The acres upon acres of pavers newly installed in the State Park are slippery when wet or covered with ice. This has resulted in numerous cases of tourists slipping on the slick granite, and necessitated the closing of Three Sisters Islands from November to late March as a result of the ironically-named Land-scape Improvements plan.

And that’s not all. We have observed that approximately 1 in 20 of the expensive, imported pavers in the Niagara Falls State Park are exhibiting visible cracks!

Most of the pavers have only been in place for a year or two. What they will look like 10, 20 or even 50 years from now?

In addition, specs called for a thickness of 3”. Is it normal for 3” thick stone pavers to readily crack with-in a year of being installed?

Tags:

37 Comments

  1. I can no longer take a disabled family member to Three Sisters Islands because of the uneven stones. From day one I’ve seen people with strollers, wheel chairs or walkers turning around shortly after moving onto the pavers. It used to look natural there — a paved trail is a necessary and the one previously there was great (and wasn’t so slippery or dangerous when it was icy or wet), and everything else was perfect, now it’s absolutely horrible. Even if the fences come down, the other changes will remain. Between there and Luna Island it looks like someone hired their teenaged niece or nephew to landscape: it’s NOT natural looking with those new huge rocks added, or the steps down to the river, etc. Terrapin Point had a great design and held up over the years (no need for replacement of the pavement at all. There were some puddles near the brink, but the rest was perfect. There was no obvious need to change anything thing there. I hope the pavement’s not replaced with those horrible granite pavers, or the design changed. The big rocks added elsewhere just make it look like poor landscaping. They are so out of place and take up room needed with the sheer number of tourists in peak season. I hope at least the original railings will remain in use. The first year I noticed not just cracked and loose pavers, but a missing one. WNY winters will no doubt continue to make the surface more difficult to walk. I refuse to believe that no one thought of the obvious problems with the pavers. Part of the plan (in so many years taxpayers will need to sink more money in)? Wonder how Cuomo… profits from those benefitting from the project, as revealed in your article. What a waster of taxpayers’ money. Boondoggle. It’s sickening.

  2. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your weblog. You have some really great articles and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

  3. Interesting, but not ideal. Are you going to write more?

  4. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  5. p3APUk It as not that I want to replicate your web site, but I really like the style. Could you let me know which design are you using? Or was it tailor made?

  6. I appreciate you sharing this post.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  7. Getting Viagra Overnight Amoxicillin Bmp 202 Blue Pill viagra cialis Tadalafil Cialis Generico Cialis E Dolori Muscolari

  8. Looking forward to reading more. Great post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  9. Wow, fantastic blog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you made running a blog glance easy. The full look of your site is great, let alone the content material!

  10. Some truly nice and utilitarian information on this website , also I think the design holds good features.

  11. There as certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I love all the points you made.

  12. Travel view of Three Gorges | Wonder Travel Blog

  13. This particular blog is no doubt entertaining and besides informative. I have picked a bunch of useful things out of this blog. I ad love to visit it again and again. Thanks a bunch!

  14. We can no longer afford established veterans if they have interest in him than expected.

  15. I really liked your post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  16. Major thankies for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  17. Viagra Rezept Achat Cialis Livraison Rapide cialis Cephalexin And Sunlight Prix Du Levitra 10 Maison De La Gendarmerie Swww Healthy Man Viagra

  18. It as great that you are getting thoughts from this piece of writing as well as from our argument made here.

  19. Im thankful for the article post. Really Great.

  20. Major thanks for the blog post. Really Great.

  21. Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We ave ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  22. who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner because I found it for him

  23. Looking forward to reading more. Great blog.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  24. It as nearly impossible to find experienced people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  25. Really appreciate you sharing this post.Thanks Again. Cool.

  26. There are positively a lot of particulars like that to engage addicted to consideration. To facilitate may ensue a nice point to convey.

  27. you have done a excellent task on this topic!

  28. It is best to participate in a contest for probably the greatest blogs on the web. I will suggest this website!

  29. publish was once good. I do not understand who you might be however

  30. Thanks so much for the blog article.Thanks Again. Great.

  31. that hаА аЂаve you feeling the most c?mfаА аБТ•rtable an?

  32. I truly appreciate this post. I ave been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Google. You have made my day! Thx again.

  33. we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free

  34. Major thankies for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

  35. You made a number of good points there. I did a search on the subject and found most persons will agree with your blog.

  36. Viagra Forsale In Arizona viagra Amoxicillin Taken For Uvulitis Levaquin 750mg Gatigol Usa Cheap Lasix No Prescription

  37. light bulbs are good for lighting the home but stay away from incandescent lamps simply because they produce so substantially heat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/NiagaraReporter/
 
Scroll Up
.wpzoom (color:black;}