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JULY 28 - AUGUST 04, 2015

Dyster Engineering Disaster Here;
City Engineer Job Remains Open

By Mike Hudson

JULY 28, 2015

A parade of engineers come and go, but one thing stays the same: millions of dollars are spent on outside consultants, while costs for projects spiral and even the simplest task cannot be done - like paving roads, ensuring water lines operate in the winter and garbage is picked up according to the people's needs. This is the administration of Mayor Paul Dyster.
Ali Marzban - ex city engineer.
Bob Curtis - ex city engineer.
Jeffrey Skurka-ex city engineer

Of all the positions he’s failed to fill with qualified people, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s record when it comes to the job of city engineer is particularly abysmal. A revolving door has seen no fewer than four men passing in and out, and long periods without any city engineer at all have led to a reliance on costly outside engineering consulting firms that have driven up costs on every single project the city has undertaken.

Currently, no one has occupied the engineer’s office at City Hall in more than two years.

On the day Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster took office, Jan. 1, 2008, he fired City Engineer Bob Curtis. The city had no engineer for the next 15 months and the incredibly costly North Main Street courthouse was built without the benefit of a licensed city engineer.

On March, 30, 2009, Dyster hired Ali Marzban, an Iranian immigrant from Los Angeles.

Five months later, Dyster fired Marzban following a Niagara Falls Reporter expose that revealed Marzban did not have a license to practice engineering in New York State or anywhere else in the United States.

During Marzban's time in office, however, he was permitted to sign off on the disastrous Lewiston Road project.

Dyster again had no engineer until January, 2010, when he hired Tom Radomski. Seventeen months later, he fired Radomski for being in violation of the city's residency ordinance.

The mayor appointed Jeffrey Skurka in July 2011 and fired him in April 2013, for the most part due to Skurka's public criticisms of the Lewiston Road and Buffalo Avenue rebuilding projects.

His lawsuit is currently winding its’ way through the courts.

Skurka was fired after what his lawsuit says was a run-in with Mayor Paul A. Dyster and City Administrator Donna D. Owens over the Lewiston Road reconstruction project.

The lawsuit contends that Skurka was fired in retaliation for his actions regarding safety violations on Lewiston Road and in violation of whistle-blower provisions of the state Civil Service Law.

While Dyster has used a number of engineering consulting firms during his years in office, his current favorite seems to be Clark Patterson Lee of Buffalo, who have worked on projects ranging from the Jayne Park pave over to the 72nd Street water line fiasco and the never to be built animal shelter Dyster was going to erect before he changed his mind.

Clark Patterson Lee works for the city in return for a $93,000 annual retainer, one that cannot be adjusted anywhere but up, depending on how much they’re asked to do.

They’re being asked to do a lot, canoe launches and cricket fields aren’t cheap, and by the time the year is over the firm may make double or more the retainer.

When it comes to reliable filling one of the most important positions at City Hall, Dyster’s eight-year record can be summed up in a single word.



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