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SEP 30- OCT 07, 2014

Dyster Administration Never Promised Us a Rose Garden

By Anna M. Howard

September 30, 2014

The Rose Garden in Hyde Park as it appeared years ago. This picture is still used on the City of Niagara Falls website.

Niagara Falls - The Hyde Park "Rose Garden" tucked between the park's lawn bowling greens and the eastern shore of Hyde Park Lake were, at one time, beautifully maintained rows of blooming roses that served as the backdrop for wedding photography sessions for more than a half century.

But, during the last few years, the formerly beautiful gardens slipped into disrepair and now the Rose Garden is nothing more than weed-choked beds dotted with dead and dying rose bushes.

The Rose Garden in Hyde Park (above and below) as it appears now.


How did it happen? Especially when one considers the many millions of dollars – casino dollars and others – that have been spent for every imaginable reason, ranging from parking consultants to park consultants; from Hard Rock concerts to a $45,000,000 train station; from a $500,000 unaccredited housing rehabilitation program to a blues fest; from a Holiday Market to a shuttered Underground Railroad Interpretive Center and a $46.5 million courthouse.

At one time – and for the better part of a century – the Hyde Park Rose Garden brought brides and their wedding parties from near and far to have their formal matrimonial memories recorded in Niagara Falls.

But today the condition of the garden has become a scandal of horticultural neglect and poor municipal administration.

Ironically, last year Mayor Paul Dyster and senior planner Tom DeSantis spent $265,000 to pay Bergman Associates Inc., to write a report detailing how to spend millions of dollars to re-do the city's park system. The consulting firm inventoried the number of trees, swing sets, monkey bars, trash cans and other things in the city's 28 parks and open areas.

Much of the study was paid for by Greenway grant money, but $57,000 of the study came from taxpayers of Niagara Falls.

Had the mayor and his planner simply took $5,000 of that, they could have worked with local nursery professionals to rebuild and renew the city's commitment to the once legendary and proud Rose Garden.

Dyster and DeSantis left the Rose Garden, and, for that matter, Hyde Park, the largest municipal park in New York State outside of Central Park in New York City, untouched and wanting in many ways.

The Rose Garden is now row upon row of dead rosebushes distributed around and beneath a large trellis that also slipped into disrepair, as Christmas lights and wires dangle from its top and sides.

On Cayuga Island, the mayor and his planner plan to use another Greenway matching grant to alter Jayne Park by adding asphalt trails, a canoe launch and parking that nobody asked for and nobody wants.

In Griffon Park, the mayor and planner, two years ago, constructed a new playground at a cost of $100,000 despite the fact that a city playground with near new equipment was yards away.

Dyster and DeSantis failed to complete the work at Caravelle Park in LaSalle and that park remains unfinished and a hazardous place for children to play after more than a year.

The $265,000 they gave a consultant to put words on paper that no one will read, much less value, would have been enough to repair the Rose

Garden and have Caravelle completed with $220,000 left over for additional work in Hyde Park and across the city.

Even though the city's once proud Rose Garden sits fallow, you'd never know it from reading about it on the city's Internet Parks and Recreation page ( where a photo of the Rose Garden obviously taken many years ago, is captioned, "Rose Garden – Reservations available for weddings or photography sessions – FREE."

FREE. Gee, for free you can have your photos taken among dead, dying, neglected and absent flowers.

It could be worse. The city could be charging for the photography sessions.

According to the city's website, you can reserve the (dead) Rose Garden by calling 286-4940.

Hopefully this mayor, or perhaps the next, will return the Rose Garden to the colorful and promising nature that it once beheld.

"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" was a 1972 hit song. Try singing this comforting song the next time you visit the Rose Garden at Hyde Park.  






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