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Apr 01 - Apr 09, 2014

Chicago Parking Lot Specialists Find Eager Buyer in Dyster

By Mike Hudson

April 1, 2014

Like a specter or wraith haunting the city's downtown parking lots, Desman Associates refuses to die. Sucking the city's lifeblood of cash through fangs made out of paper proposals and studies, the company keeps coming back to feed and feed again.

It's scary, kids. After the City Council shot down a Desman proposal that would have cost taxpayers $95,200 to implement a downtown parking plan, the company quickly came back with a new offer that miraculously dropped the price by an astonishing $30,000 to a low, low budget chink of just $65,100.

And as our distinguished mayor, Paul Dyster, is so fond of pointing out, all of that would come out of casino cash revenues.

Former Mayor Irene Elia and former Mayor Vince Anello each had their own pet parking schemes, cooked up by consultants and paid for by those unfortunate enough to own property in the city of Niagara Falls. Neither of those ended up going anywhere, and the new one isn't likely to either, but Dyster seems bound, set and determined to have his own failed parking plan.

Dyster's, outlined by Desman Associates, is pretty much par for the course. Parking meters, new employees, a big outlay of cash connected the vague promises of "revenue enhancement" sometime down the road.

The reality, as anyone who has spent much time in Niagara Falls knows, is somewhat different. Aside from Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, downtown parking is rarely a problem. Private parking lot operators earn the bulk of their annual revenues on a dozen or so weekends each year.

Back in October of last year, Desman Associates billed the city a whopping $45,000 for a 22-page report that didn't contain 5,000 words of text recommending that they, Desman Associates, be permitted to implement the new parking program.

Dyster, who enthusiastically backed Elia's parking program as a member of the City Council in the early years of the new century, has apparently swallowed completely Desman's incredibly optimistic projection of $1 million in new revenue annually. He wanted to give the consulting firm the whole $95,200 and were it not for the opposition of usual ally Charles Walker, they'd have gotten it.

The mayor's proposal, which has been estimated to cost in excess of $900,000 to implement, would involve the establishment of a "department of parking" here, the hiring of new personnel to man it, and increased enforcement, primarily against local residents, of local parking codes.

It is not in any significant way different than the parking plans proposed by Elia or Anello, which resulted in the waste of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, ripped up sidewalks and parking meter poles that never had any meters installed on top of them.

Desman Associates is a "parking consulting" firm based on North Clark Street in Chicago. Ironically it was in a parking garage on North Clark Street that nine men associated with the Irish North Side Gang were lined up and gunned down in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.

While no connection can be established, it is indeed interesting to note that Al Capone, the man who ordered that February 14 outrage in Chicagoland, and Stefano Magaddino, the man who controlled everything in the Falls but the mighty Cataracts, were closer than close.

History repeats itself around here, but often we wish it wouldn't.





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