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Hamister Watch: Seven Weeks and Counting, Still No Contract

Young Mark Hamister, he came to save our city. But where is he now?
No, this is not the Hamister hotel. Although, given its location, this is what it should have been. This is the 56 story New York City Four Seasons hotel.
The pusillanimous Hamister Hotel, the savior of our city. Will it be built?

On that first July day when the Niagara Falls City Council did not approve the selling of prime city-owned land to Mark Hamister for seven percent of the property's appraised value - so he could build a taxpayer subsidized mid-sized hotel - the whole world went black. Air looked black. Sun looked black.

I curled up in bed and stared at the black walls of my house and saw a world where no one is happy, all of us stuck in time and pain.

I was surprised to see the world didn't stop.

It was of no comfort when Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster spoke of the proposed 114-room Hamister hotel as "the tipping point," for all Niagara Falls, that magic moment when an idea, trend, social behavior or five-story hotel crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.

This deal was stalled.

Congressman Higgins, Sen. Schumer, Sen. Maziarz, Councilwoman Grandinetti and others who Hamister had blessed with generous contributions so they could continue their illustrious careers, spoke of the stunting of life, the denial of opportunity.

Life without Hamister was unthinkable.

The newspaper of record suspected the "three stooges" who made up the council majority, those "three blind mice" who were "sabotaging" a "desperately needed" and "important project," might be "inhaling something" unknown.

Other TV stations, and newspapers, even the radio, pounded home the truth: The council majority was threatening a return to the golden days of yore. All the while, the local media duly reported. All told, there were more than 150 news stories about Hamister and the council's delay.

And a threat it was.

Even the hero himself, Mark Hamister, was "within an hour of finalizing the decision to walk away" when the governor called.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo convinced the noble developer Hamister to stay in the deal and then Cuomo comforted the public, when he told them that the great man would stay in, for a while, while telling the public that to lose this five-story hotel would be a "tragedy."

All told, 10 weeks passed between the horrid time the council majority sought to study the deal, and questioned Hamister, and the primary election where one of the three who opposed the Hamister deal, Councilman Sam Fruscione, was defeated in the Democratic primary. Fruscione's loss was the tipping point for the council opposition to the Hamister deal.

Moments after the primary, as the media was ready to pounce on the other two council holdouts, Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson, Anderson had an epiphany. He gave his consent to the Hamister deal and the media reporter it. But even with obstinate Fruscione and stubborn Choolokian voting against it, on Sept. 16 the council voted 3-2 to approve the Hamister deal.

It was the happy ending of the fairy tale.

All that was left was for Hamister to ink the deal already made.

Now seven weeks have passed.

Somehow no deal has been announced.

Is there a problem?

Has the deal changed?

Did we hurt someone's feelings?

When will Hamister sign a contract for his five-story hotel to be built?

Has it been downsized? Does he have the money?

Does he?

The concept of building a five-story hotel on a site a few hundred feet from the American Falls, suggested to two of the three blind mice an underutilization of prime land. True, the hotel will be too short to afford a view of the falls, which, were it taller, could provide a city that does not have one hotel with a view of the falls, with a view of the falls. But we didn't care. Nor did we care that in a city devoid of attractions, but full of mid-sized hotels, this site might have been utilized for something other than another mid- sized hotel. This was our Hamister, and his midget hotel was promoted to the faithful here as akin to Jehovah's covenant with this city.

So when will Hamister sign?



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Nov 05, 2013