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JULY 28 - AUGUST 04, 2015

Residents of 72nd Street Dreading Third Winter With No Running Water

By Mike Hudson

JULY 28, 2015

While residents went without running water for two winters in a row, and may have to go without water again this winter since Mayor Dyster is awaiting a grant to fix the problem, he fortunately has casino money available for the many important economic development tasks at hand.
Here Mayor Paul Dyster emcees a Hard Rock Concert. Using casino cash, he provides economic development while having a rollicking good time. Hopefully some of the residents of 72nd St could come to the summer concerts to relax and take their minds off the water problems for a fun-filled evening. And don't forget the casino cash subsidized Blues Fest coming this fall. Join us won't you?
Back in 2014, The Reporter showed everyone what was wrong on 72nd St and other city streets where water lines froze: The lines are too shallow after the street reconstruction the Dyster administration did. It didn't need study then and it doesn't need studies now. The studies are merely to enrich the outside consultants.
Artists rendering of Mayor Dyster’s consultants.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s squandering of nearly $200 million in casino cash, the insanely expensive garbage recycling program and dumping $44 million into a new train station that will serve fewer than 100 passengers a day might not seem so bad if he could simply ensure that the residents of 72nd Street will have running water this winter.

They didn’t last winter, or the winter before, because of a botched street repaving job that left the water main uninsulated and too close to the surface to prevent it from freezing when the temperature dipped below 32 degrees.

From the beginning, city officials including Dyster knew what the problem was.

That’s because the contractor, Paul Marinaccio, president of Accadia Site Contracting, told them the water line needed to be replaced. He said he could do the work while the street was opened for around $300,000, and the city asked the Water Board to spring for it.

The Water Board balked, everyone forgot about Marinaccio’s warning and Dyster turned his attention to more important matters, such as Harriet Tubman’s imaginary visit to the city. The street was paved over, but 18 inches beneath the expensive new concrete a ticking time bomb awaited.

Dyster was lucky at first. Between 2010, when the repaving was done, and 2013, the water in the pipes did not freeze. He managed to dodge the bullet.

Until February of 2014, when they did freeze. And 186 homeowners around 72nd Street found themselves without running water.

“Having water lines freeze during a cold winter is not at all an unusual situation," Dyster said at the time. "There were about six theories about what may have happened and it would be premature to discuss the possibilities."

That’s what he said, but of course he knew what the problem was. Paul Marinaccio told him about it four years earlier.

Anthony Mallone, who had been the project engineer for Accadia on the repaving project, told the Niagara Falls Reporter in an exclusive interview that the cause of the problem was as plain as the nose on your face.

"You need to redo the water line, re-cut the road (and) install a new water line, excavate it down to a depth below the freeze line," he said.

But Dyster, forever anxious to throw money at Buffalo engineering consulting firms such as Clark Patterson Lee commissioned a study to see what the real problem was, even though he knew what the real problem was.

The Clark Patterson Lee report was hand delivered to city hall on April 9, 2014. The report was only four pages long, because it was obvious to everyone except Dyster what the problem was.

The water lines too shallow after the road was reconstructed in 2010, the report concluded.

"We reviewed plans dated 2010 and spoke with members of the (city) Engineering Department to obtain information regarding this full depth roadway reconstruction project,” it read. "We discovered that the frozen services on 72nd Street were located in areas where the water facilities are above normal recommended installation depths within recently reconstructed areas. In addition we were told that the Engineering Department coordinated with the Niagara Falls Water Board, who was aware of the water main depths in this area; In particular, we learned that the Niagara Falls Water Board opted against the Engineering Department's recommendation to replace the existing water facilities at recommended depths where road reconstruction would occur…”

Dyster put the report in a drawer. He chose not to share its conclusions with the Water Board, the city Council or the residents of 72nd Street who had suffered for weeks without running water.

The weather warmed up, and Dyster turned his attention to a canoe launch at the Hyde Park Pond, a kayak launch at Griffon Park and cosmetic improvements to the 53rd Street fishing dock.

By December of 2014, a full eight months after he’d put it in a drawer, pesky television reporters were asking Dyster to see the Clark Patterson Lee report. He acted as though he’d just gotten it, and said they would have to wait for him to give the Water Board a heads up on the findings before making it public.

He assured them, however, that the report gave no indication that there was any problem related to the city’s repaving project, which was an out and out lie.

In February 2015, the water main froze again. Residents once again found themselves without running water, one of the most basic and vital services any municipality provides.

It wasn’t until February 26 that the Water Board received a copy of the Clark Patterson Lee report. They got it from a reporter from the Buffalo News, which had obtained it under a Freedom of Information Law request.

The water lines remained frozen until April. Dyster did nothing. Finally, he threw some more money at Clark Patterson Lee. He said they needed to do another study.

Last week, the gap between what goes on in the mind of Paul Dyster and reality grew exponentially. In an interview with the Niagara Gazette, he essentially said the city was too broke to figure out what the problem on 72nd Street was and fix it, and that he couldn’t guarantee that would be done before the coming winter.

For 72nd Street residents, the prospect of a third winter in a row without running water is daunting.

“We have to get this fixed,” mayoral candidate and city Councilman Glenn Choolokian said Monday. “The Council will help in any way.”

Dyster knew what the problem was on 72nd Street in 2010, when the contractor Marinaccio told him about it.

Dyster knew what the problem was on 72nd Street in February 2014 when he read the Clark Patterson Lee report.

Last week, as he cried poor to the Gazette, Dyster dropped a total of $215,000 to buy a rundown brownfield property on Highland Avenue and join the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise organization.


Just ask the 186 homeowners over by 72nd Street.


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