Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
JULY 08 - JULY 16, 2014

Dyster-Piccirillo Plan Thunder Stolen; Tiny Minnesota Town Has Better Idea

By Mike Hudson

July 08, 2014

Move over Paul Dyster and Seth Piccirillo, there's a new sheriff in town. No, not in Niagara Falls,but in Harmony, Minn., where a new municipal program will pay prospective residents up to $12,000 to build new homes.

The Dyster-Piccirillo plan, unveiled to much fanfare here two years ago, pays recent college graduates stipends of $3,500 a year for two years to take up residence on the mean streets of Niagara Falls.

It apparently never occurred to the City Hall brain trust that the lack of job opportunities for college graduates here, combined with the absence of any meaningful culture or nightlife and the generally squalid condition of the immediate surroundings, would conspire to doom their little plan before it got off the ground.

But it did. After two years, the mayor and his director of community development have managed to lure just seven lost souls into their program. Their impact on the city has been negligible.

And the Associated Press, CBS, Forbes, the Huffington Post, Good Morning America, ABC, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fox News, the London Telegraph and all of the other national and international media outlets that ballyhooed the Dyster-Piccirillo plan when it was announced have gone far away.

As far as Harmony, Minn.

"In an empty, grassy lot bordered by cornfields stands a red sign: "Up to $12,000 CASH to Build in Harmony!" one news account began.

"This southeastern Minnesota city, population 1,020, wants you to live here. So much so that it will pay you $5,000 to $12,000 if you build a house."

"The younger people coming here, they don't want to live in their grandmother's house," said Steve Cremer, president of Harmony Enterprises, which manufactures trash compactors and recycling equipment. Cremer estimates that 95 percent of his employees live outside of Harmony, in cities such as St. Charles, Rushford and Rochester.

Cremer's point is a good one, and one that officials in Niagara Falls missed entirely. Most of the currently existing housing stock in our city was built between the late 19th century and the 1950s, when the city was growing. The decline began after 1960, and new single family houses built since then are rare.

In other words, they're all your grandma's houses.

Harmony's offer ranges from $5,000 to build a house worth $125,000 to $12,000 for a $250,000 home. The city boasts at least 15 lots that are "basically shovel-ready," priced around $14,000, said Christopher Skaalen, president of Harmony's First Southeast Bank.

And the home builders don't even have to be college graduates.

City officials estimate that it will take five years to make the grants back in the form of property taxes once the houses are built. In Niagara Falls, Dyster and Piccirillo made no provision for ever recovering the money handed out.

So, while Harmony, Minn., will have new construction and the jobs that go along with it, in addition to expanding the tax base of their community, Niagara Falls will have a handful of people who moved here for two years and then moved on when the money ran out.

The small minded Niagara Falls approach to what is the city's biggest challenge is emblematic of a leadership bereft of bold thinking, and a management style that dictates throwing taxpayer money at every problem that comes along without any thought about getting it back.





Megadeth" slated to Perform at Artpark Next Week, Decadent band to be subsidized by Lewiston, State
Erie County business leaders run Artpark like some private club
Dyster-Piccirillo plan thunder stolen; Tiny Minnesota town has better idea
Ken Young Defends Paving at Joe Davis, Welcomes Tests to prove he laid down promised paving, Says Town allowed 40-ton trucks to ruin lot, not him!
Dyster Pulls Funding Resolution After Touma Sings the Blues Here
Choolokian Sounds Warning on Spending
Taxpayers sing the blues as Dyster squanders their cash
Avery Calls for Owens' Ouster, But Why not Dyster?
Lack of Dyster Transparency not new
Complicated new garbage ordinance to penalize landlords, small business
No Cost Savings with Dyster-Owens Garbage Plan
Dumpsters to be regulated in new and draconian ways
Dyster trash plan and enforcement dumps on residents
Speak Out Against Toxic Waste in Niagara County
From Police Barracks to Rest Rooms and More Pavement Things are Getting Worse at Niagara's State Parks
Recent Reports on NF School District Grad Rates Misleading
Monument Observing Wallenda Walk now Permanent Fixture on Olmsted's Goat Island Reservation
Memorial Hospital's Wound Center Gets Top Award
Reporter engages 'Nancy' and exposes the truth behind Ghana Internet scams
Letters to the Editor
Beautiful Summer Days Good Time to Rescue a Dog

Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina