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FEB 10 - FEB 17, 2015

State of the City Gives Mayor Chance to Address Issues

By Anna M. Howard

February 10, 2015

An abandoned Main St. is what most resident see as they note the decline of Niagara Falls.
A vibrant downtown, aided by as yet unbuilt mega projects like the proposed Wonderfalls Hotel is what the Mayor sees. But will his vision come to fruition

Mayor Paul A. Dyster will deliver his 2015 state of the city address on Wednesday February 18 at 6pm in the Niagara Conference Center on Old Falls Street.

The mayor has been in office for seven years, having been first elected in November 2007.

Since this is an election year, we expect Rosy Scenario to be sitting prominently in the front row on the 18th.

Happy talk and laundry lists of accomplishments are the rule for those running for reelection.

To balance it out, the Reporter suggests the mayor also address the tougher issues.

* Crime - Niagara Falls is ranked as the state's most dangerous city;

* Casino revenue expenditures - more than $183 million has been collected- most of it spent- without a clear perception by residents of what has been accomplished with the money;

* A new train station with a question: who will pay for operations and how much?

* A planned animal shelter: Initiated to accommodate the city's pit bull problem, it also has the question: How much it is going to cost residents?;

* Rising taxes - despite millions of casino spending

* A trash and recycling plan - why is it costing more to throw out less?

* Third Street grants and loans- why do the businesses that get these loans consistently fail;

* Transparency in city hall - is that a goal of the administration?

* Main Street - has it been written off?

* Hyde Park - a once vibrant, the city's largest park - with deferred maintenance, while other projects of arguable merit seem to grab large chunks of casino cash; What would it take to make the park right again?

* The real costs of Isaiah 61 - the not for profit rehab and educational project that snagged at least $500,000 of casino cash. The program has yet to sell a single rehabbed house, or create one home owner. As for the school, only six students graduated from a recent class; The word is the program has all but collapsed.

* A court house draining city finances with $2.4 million in annual debt payments; salaries, stipends and overtime rising; a budget process that was late and with a structural deficit - as casino money dwindles - what is the plan to curb expenses?

This is what we would like sincerely and transparently addressed.

Sure we assume we will hear about the Hamister project; the governor's Wonderfalls proposal; development along Military Road (that occurred through free enterprise; the anchor, Fashion Outlet Mall created a rush of Canadian shopping tourism); the "success" of Third Street and Old Falls Street; that hotels and motels are being built (that the city realistically played no role in developing), the growth of recently reopened Niagara Falls airport (that the Dyster administration did not support initially), the incoming "downtown parking plan"; the trickle down from the "Buffalo Billions"; the costly and murky LIVE NF program where the city offers to pay recent college graduates to move to Niagara Falls (which has only attracted a handful of graduates since the program started three years ago); the many "tough decisions" the mayor made to solve problems related to city labor costs; the "unfair" crime statistics that bedevil the administration; and, how a $44 million train station that will "transform" the city's north end.

Will this be wrapped up with a bow with words to this effect: "The big steps have been taken to bring Niagara Falls back, but it's going to take some time for the benefits to be reaped and the growing tax base to be realized… But there are bright days in the city's future."?

How much of this is accurate and how much is spin, we will leave to residents to decide. This is an election year and it is fair to state that residents are smart enough to determine whether they believe the city has improved during past seven years and whether they believe it will improve if he is elected to a third term.

We encourage city residents to attend the mayor's state of the city address.





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Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
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