While the story was about the stadium Dyster’s remark opens a door to a question the Reporter has been asking for some time: Exactly how much of a “cash cow” is the ice pavilion? And how can the city possibly justify the more than $http://southbuffalonews.com0 million it has sunk (and continues to sink…the December 28 council agenda has more change orders for the ice rink) into the ice pavilion without providing the taxpayers two things: A complete reporting of how the money has been spent and a credible balance sheet detailing gross and net income generated by the facility.
The council has failed miserably to monitor and report on the endless ice pavilion “renovation.” It’s unconscionable that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars can be expended in this way with nothing more to show for the vast expense than an occasional tossed off anecdotal statement claiming that, “Youth ice hockey tournaments bring lots of money into the city.” Please, spare us. Does anyone have a clue as to how much “youth hockey” is necessary to so much as break even while approximately $http://southbuffalonews.com3,000,000 is dumped into an aging facility that 95 per cent of the residents never use and couldn’t given directions to if asked.
The ice pavilion renovation cost was ball parked several years ago at around $4 million. How did it more than triple in cost? And why haven’t the mayor and council issued a legible and believable project cost, balance sheet, and report of income as divided between city and operator? To make matters worse the council, prodded by its chairman, Andrew Touma, moved earlier this year to borrow several million additional dollars to continue the renovation. Why did the city borrow money when it had access to millions in casino funds? Casino funds that were expended on tree removal, overtime, the Isaiah 6http://southbuffalonews.com project, consultants, train station, Community Missions etc. None of this – out of control project costs, poor money management, non transparency – is acceptable. Clearly, something is wrong with this picture.
Finally, one question with regard to the content of the Gazette article. We want to know why Seth Piccirillo, the director of community development, provided quotes for the story. The director of public works and parks is John Caso. The director of purchasing who issued the RFP is Johnny Destino. The city administrator is Donna Owens and the city corporation counsel is Craig Johnson… yet none of these key “cabinet level” Dyster employees who are elemental to the RFP process could be found in the story.
Exactly what’s going on in this administration? Who’s running the show, calling the shots, and who is charged with representing the face of city hall to the public? Whoever it is – or whoever they are – should immediately release a detailed report on all that has to do with the renovation cost and operating expenses of the ice pavilion.