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JULY 21 - JULY 29, 2015

Council Approves Dyster Purchase of Worthless Land for Big Bucks; Why?

By Mike Hudson

JULY 21, 2015

There must be a reason why the city - in the throes of financial insolvency - is buying the Science Museum property (that Nick Dalacu bought for $40,000 in 2002) for $160,000, but it is quite certain that the public is not being told the real reason.

The Niagara Falls City Council this week approved a proposal by Mayor Paul Dyster to pay more than double the assessed value on a crumbling, contaminated Highland Avenue property recently listed on eBay in an online auction that attracted no bidders.

And for dessert, the august body of city solons tossed $50,000 at the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, an Erie County organization that meets sporadically in posh restaurants to discuss various ways and means of raping the taxpayer over luncheons of escargot, wild salmon and prime rib.  

The 5.5 acre property, at 3625 Highland Ave., was purchased for $165,000. It’s actual value, according to the city Assessor’s office, is just $72,200. There are three buildings on the parcel, at least two of which will have to be torn down, and as part of the former Union Carbide complex in the city’s North End, potential environmental issues abound.

The city is currently so broke that it is about to submit to the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments, which determined that, under the Dyster regime, Niagara Falls is the most highly taxed municipality in the entire state of New York. The onerous tax rate here, which Dyster has regularly raised, amounts to 20.2 percent of the full value of all of the real property in the city.

Dyster’s proposal for the property calls for spending $160,000 this year for the purchase, $100,000 next year, $150,000 in 2017 and $300,000 each in 2018 and 2019 on the project. What will the $845,000 above and beyond the actual purchase price of the property be used for?

The mayor hasn’t said.

And no one on the city Council thought to ask.

Very nearly $1 million has been budgeted for a project no one seems to have the slightest idea about. At first, Dyster administration officials said they were interested in preserving the Niagara Science Museum, which contains a collection of obsolete scientific instruments and is owned by Nick Dalacu, who is selling the property. When the prospect of saving Dalacu’s museum failed to arouse any interest, Dyster switched gears and began touting the property as being the ideal location for an industrial park.

Make no mistake. Just as museum goers have shown absolutely no interest in the science museum, industry has shown no interest in the industrial park.

Someday, Niagara Falls taxpayers may actually find out what it was all about. Maybe the day will come when the city’s purchase of a largely worthless property for more than double its assessed value will be explained.

Perhaps we will find out why we are forced to pay $50,000 annually for membership in the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, an organization that opposed the expansion of Niagara Falls International Airport and has worked against the interests of the city since before the turn of the century.

We might even find out why the city gifted Buffalo buffoon Mark Hamister with a downtown property worth as much as $1.5 million for a measly $100,000.

But by then it will be too late.






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