Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
APR 28 - MAY 05, 2015

Monument to Madness Result as Dyster Recycles Bad Idea?

By Mike Hudson

April 28, 2015

The circle in 60 feet across, the green area only 40 feet across
Choolokian voted against spending even $50,000 on the circle project. He expressed surprise that his council colleagues who voted for it did not pose one question about how the artist will be chosen or how in the hell one can spend almost half a million on a small traffic circle or how, since the art component is $125,000, is the mayor going to burn through more than $300,000 on the circle.
The half a million dollar traffic circle as seen from above. The Reporter predicts that the artist will be Buffalo-connected and everyone sucking on this handsome teat will have a connection to Dyster’s reelection campaign. That’s our prediction and we’ll let readers know.
Dyster to spend almost half a million on a small traffic circle. There are going to be a lot of happy campers enjoying this largesse.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster is a big proponent of recycling. His ill-advised solid waste recycling program, which supplied residents with big recycling receptacles and comparatively tiny ones for the disposal of regular garbage, has resulted in our fair city being one of the most trash strewn in the nation, with many vacant and abandoned lots being converted for use as illegal neighborhood dumps and alleyways rendered impassable by the mountains of garbage that block them.

But Dyster’s passion for recycling doesn’t end with the paper, plastics, glass and metals most people think of. Our mayor is a man of vision, and what he likes to recycle more than anything else are his own ideas.

In Dyster’s considered opinion, Dyster has never had a bad idea. The problem is that his superior brain is so advanced in its way of thinking that sometimes it takes a while for the minds of mere mortals to catch up. Perhaps blinded by brilliance, they stupidly resist the obvious merit in his approach. He is, on occasion, a man ahead of his time.

When this happens, he tucks his proposal away in a desk drawer. Believing himself to be mayor for life if he wants to be, he knows that opportunity will once again come his way. And it does.

Then, quicker than you can say basketball courts at Jayne Park, he reintroduces, recycles, if you will, his grand scheme of five or more years earlier. Slight changes in the makeup of the City Council, a vociferous old line opponent or two gone on to their greater reward or otherwise neutralized, a general population being dumbed down at a steady rate of around 1,000 educated, hardworking, taxpaying residents a year who flee the city for greener pastures combine to make the old idea new once more.

Well, it’s happened again.

Back in 2009, just one year into his first term as mayor, Dyster proposed the Centennial Circle project. You can be forgiven for not remembering this bit of historical Niagara Falls minutiae, or for not even knowing what the heck Centennial Circle is. It is only as important as the $455,000 Dyster proposed throwing at it in 2009, and now again in 2015.

Six years ago, there was some urgency to Dyster’s pitch. After all, the famous Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada had been signed in 1909, and the centennial of the signing was what impelled him to name the traffic island out in front of the long moribund Hotel Niagara "Centennial Circle" to begin with.

Never heard of the Boundary Waters Treaty? Don’t worry, nobody else has either. The primary purpose of the treaty was to settle disputes arising over the use of water diverted from lakes and rivers separating the countries for use in farm irrigation.

The centerpiece of the project was described as a piece of “public art,” which generally means a sculpture of some sort, to commemorate the obscure treaty. Dyster announced with great fanfare that a contest would be held, the winner of which would receive the commission to execute the art.

The city applied to the Greenway Commission for $355,000 to help fund the project. The crucial roles played by Dyster and City Planner Tom DeSantis in the formation of the commission paid off in spades, as the absurd request was approved. To sweeten the pudding, the city and the state’s USA Niagara Development Corp. agreed to toss in $50,000 apiece.   

Centennial Circle may charitably be described as a modest expanse. Not counting the sidewalks it measures but 40 feet across, 60 feet if you throw the sidewalks in. The relative insignificance of the real estate and the rather large amount of money Dyster sought to invest in it brought the naysayers out of the woodwork.

After all, one could easily buy a dozen above average homes in the city of Niagara Falls for $435,000 and still have money left over for improvements. Surely, our wunderkind mayor could find some better use for nearly a half million dollars than the sprucing up of a humble traffic island to honor the signing of a little known treaty back when William Howard Taft occupied the White House.

And then there was the matter of public safety. Niagara Falls isn’t New England and even the concept of a traffic circle, as opposed to a stop light, seemed foreign and vaguely suspicious. Here, drivers were used to traffic lights, where red means stop, green means go and yellow means maybe go but just be careful.

Even without a piece of “public art” further obstructing the view, Centennial Circle had already been the scene of numerous fender benders.

The ballyhooed contest was never held. Dyster’s plan for Centennial Circle was quietly put away. Until now.

Dyster has asked the City Council to once again consider the project, and to make the $50,000 available for the purpose. In a city that doesn’t have enough money to keep water mains from freezing, hire a full time city engineer, properly maintain the streets or tear down any significant number of abandoned and derelict former residences and businesses that mar city streets like so many rotten teeth, there always seems to be enough to have a rock concert, subsidize and out of town developer, build a new refrigerator to view penguins in or erect an undescribed piece of “public art.”

Councilman Glenn Choolokian, who has announced his intention to run against Dyster in November, said this plan is symbolic of Dyster's view of governance.

It's incredible, and almost unfathomable that Mayor Dyster continues to drain our city funds,” Choolokian told the Niagara Falls Reporter in an exclusive interview. “Would any other city be in this mess?... With the continued lack of common sense the Dyster Administration seems to always have outside interest groups in mind and not the taxpayers of Niagara Falls."

A quick look at the line budget for the Centennial Circle project provides some insight. There’s $120,000 ironically earmarked for “irrigation improvements” on the site of the monument to international irrigation, $50,000 for announcing and managing the artist selection contest, $125,000 for the “art” itself, $75,000 for site work and $15,000 for an interpretive sidewalk display that will explain why any of this matters in the least. Another $50,000 is earmarked for “soft costs” and “oversight,” which is political legalese for a slush fund.

Anyway you look at it, $455,000 is a lot of money. And it’s your money. Spending it on something that’s not going to improve your quality of life one iota, and that a tourist would be unlikely to cross the busy intersection to look at in any event, is criminal in a city with as many desperate needs as Niagara Falls. 





Monument to Madness Result as Dyster Recycles Bad Idea?
Dyster Makes Odd Appearance on Darro
City Democratic Committee Rubber Stamps Dyster and his Council Candidates
Reporter Will Listen to Paul Dyster Should He Care to Comment Which He Doesn't
Upper Mountain Fire Co Caught in Controversy as Lewiston and Niagara County Litigate Tower
It's Official: Dyster Picks New Secretary for City Council
ECC May Be Struggling, But Quinn Traveling the Country
Brochey Asks Hard Questions About Lewiston-Queenston Bridge Plaza Expansion
Stop Playing Games With the Security of the USA!
Polling Well, Dreaming and Voices
"WNED-TV "Designing Olmsted" Program hypes so-called Park "Improvements"
Skrlin Draws Blood on Trashy Cartoon
North Tonawanda History Museum Used Book Sale, Saturday, May 9.
Only in NT: Brownfields a Toxic Opportunity
Two Dates for Dinner and Talk with Judge Sara Sheldon o-n Veterans Court in May
This Week in Stupid Crime
Treasury Says Debt is $18,112,975,000,000
Letters to the Editor
City Hall Jokes
City Of Woe
To the Tune of Blowin ' In The Wind A Work of Satirical Rhyme
SCOPE President on SAFE ACT: An open letter to the New York State Senate Republicans
DEC Announces Seasonal Employment Opportunities in Summer Recreation
No Chronic Wasting Disease Found During 2014-15 Game Season
Choolokian on the Centennial Circle Jerk
DEC Issues Guidance to Homeowners to Avoid Problems with Bears

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