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MAR 17 - MAR 24, 2015

Can Dyster Win on Promises and Not Much Else?

By Tony Farina

March 17, 2015

September 2013: L-R: Mark Hamister, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster convene to sign a ceremonial contract for the Hamister hotel. The project is now more than a year late.

In a way, Paul Dyster is running for a third term as mayor of Niagara Falls on promises that so far have not lived up their hype.

With a backdrop of cracked and pothole-filled roads and frozen water lines, the mayor promised when he made it official last week that his next term would be even better, if one could take that seriously given what's happened in the first two terms.

But perhaps the biggest danger to Dyster's re-election is the still uncertain future of his administration's biggest hype job, the nearly $36 million Hamister hotel project on Rainbow Blvd. that has yet to begin construction.

Yes, the Niagara County IDA last week rubber stamped 10 years worth of tax breaks ($4.25 million) for the Buffalo developer to build the hotel and Hamister will get another $3.85 million from the state, but even with all that, financing questions appear to remain with neither the developer nor the public sponsors saying much.

Sure, Hamister boosted the job numbers up to the equivalent of 36 full time jobs, whatever that means, after the number six full time jobs on the IDA application took plenty of heat from this newspaper. But so far, there are no jobs, lots of political maneuvering, and an uncertain start date that would be a killer for Dyster is if doesn't happen in time for his third term bid.

The fact is, if the Hamister deal falls through after all of the turmoil and hype of the past three years, that's the unfilled promise that will hurt Dyster the most. Never mind all the other follies the administration has tried to sell, or the failure to land a Wallenda center after at first resisting even having the daredevil make his historic walk across Niagara Falls.

The mayor has cultivated a good relationship it seems with Gov. Cuomo but beyond a lot of promises, not much has really happened that you can see. Of course, by far the biggest payoff from the cozy relationship was supposed to be a transformational downtown hotel that the governor backed all the way, and we now know even if it comes, the Hamister Hyatt Place won't transform much and won't be the kind of attraction that a Wallenda entertainment center would have provided for downtown.

I'm sure the mayor is doing all he can to make sure Hamister breaks ground on his scaled down business hotel before the primary or he'll have a lot of explaining to do to the residents of Niagara Falls who were promised a new day and have yet to see it as they try to unfreeze their pipes and navigate the bad roads that are taking a toll on motorists. In fact, that's what you hear from people all the time: the roads are killing our cars.

Will Dyster carry the day and win a third term? It may all depend on a Buffalo developer and all the state sponsors that pushed the Hamister deal on the city and that Dyster bought hook, line, and sinker.

We'll keep you posted.

Will this be converted into this? The downtown vacant lot at 310 Rainbow Blvd., is the proposed site of the Hamister Hyatt Place hotel. Will it ever get built?






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Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina