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AUGUST 03 - AUGUST 11, 2015

Dyster Waterfront Record Deplorable, Will Cause Lasting Damage to City

By James Hufnagel

AUGUST 03, 2015

License plate NF-1 is assigned to the Mayor of Niagara Falls. If he is #1, why can’t he park anywhere?
Mayor Paul Dyster has his

The other night at the well-attended Glenn Choolokian for Mayor fundraising event at Nifty Fifty's in LaSalle, it so happened that I ran into the publisher, Frank Parlato, who suggested, "You've been a big Dyster supporter over the years - why don't you write about what made you switch to Choolokian?"

A sufficient amount of time has passed, seven years and seven months to be exact, to enable us to take a step back and look at the big picture when it comes to evaluating Mayor Paul Dyster's approach to government. It can be summed up as follows: "At all times, unfalteringly advance the agendas of the governor, Albany and Buffalo big money interests, in return for state economic development dollars to support hotel construction."

For example, back in April, 2009, Niagara Falls citizens turned up in force at a scoping hearing on the south Moses Parkway. Speaker after speaker marched up to the microphone, bitterly criticizing State Parks' plan to rebuild a bigger and better parkway, further cutting off the city from its waterfront and conveying tourists directly into Niagara Falls State Park. Guess who was sitting in the audience, taking in the spectacle? A newly-installed Mayor Dyster, who later claimed that the best "compromise" he could reach with the state was a useless traffic circle and an expanded parkway decorated with billboard-size signs directing tourists coming from Grand Island directly into the state park. It was to be called "Riverway", but as of today, all the signs and maps call it the same old Robert Moses Parkway.

Compromises necessarily involve giving something, and getting something. Albany, State Parks, Delaware North and James Glynn got their brand-spanking new driveway into the state's park. What did Mayor Dyster get for his city in return? Diminished piles of dirt here and there, affording a better view of the river (across four lanes of parkway) from some hotel room. You'd think a guy with a Ph.D. in diplomacy could have bargained for more than that. Or anything at all, for that matter.

Then there's the Niagara Falls State Park "Landscape Improvements" plan that was jumpstarted with $25 million in Niagara Greenway funding, courtesy of Greenway Commission vice-chair Dyster. So far it's resulted in the destruction of Three Sisters Islands, the cutting down of century-old trees on Goat Island, expansion of parking lots, gates and booths and transformation of Prospect Point into a Delaware North

plaza reminiscent of a shopping mall food court, and the virtual paving of the park in expensive, imported stones quarried by an Albany-area Cuomo campaign contributor, based on another contributor's rigged specs (it gets worse. The two are married).

Eight million tourists visit Niagara Falls State Park every year, where they park, dine, sightsee, purchase souvenirs and then leave on a dedicated parkway without spending a dime here, sucking the economic lifeblood out of the city of Niagara Falls.

And where has Mayor Dyster been while all this is taking place? Why, in the park, of course, cutting ribbons and smiling for photos with Sam Hoyt and State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey.

After more than seven years in office, Dyster has done nothing about the north Moses Parkway, one of his top campaign promises, although he had plenty of time to lobby Albany on behalf of his top campaign contributor, multimillionaire James Glynn of Maid of the Mist, after Glynn's operation had been kicked out of Canada for alleged corruption, advocating for a new boatyard in the Niagara Gorge that was built virtually overnight.

Dyster called critics of Glynn's new gorge infrastructure "self-haters". He called gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout "crazy", Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul a "girl", and posted a decades-old mug shot of promoter Rick Crogan on his Facebook page. He tweeted that a recent WGRZ-TV report "Fix the Falls" was "racist".

A little over two years ago, as photographed and reported in this newspaper, Mayor Dyster was observed parking in a handicapped spot outside of Radio Shack in the Tops International Plaza on Niagara Falls Blvd. He ignored the individual who called out to him and brought it to his (and subsequently our) attention, continuing on into the store as if nothing was wrong.

There's plenty more, of course. As a matter of fact, some day the past seven years will be looked upon as a catastrophe, much as we look back on the disastrous policies of former mayor E. Dent Lackey that damage the city to this day. The structural waterfront reforms needed to turn this city around were never addressed by Mayor Dyster, who instead opted for a disjointed program of piecemeal development projects, many of which seem to be dragging on forever.

Worse, the 80% of waterfront that is owned and operated by State Parks has now been perfectly tuned to deprive and isolate the city and enhance the bottom lines of Albany, Delaware North and James Glynn, possibly for decades to come.

Ask yourself: what will sustain this city after the infusion of Cuomo development dollars comes to an end some day, as it must? Do you believe Cuomo, Albany, State Parks and Delaware North, with Mayor Dyster's active support and facilitation, truly act in the city's interests? Think about it, and next month, pull the lever accordingly.






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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