Niagara Gazette

May 12, 2013

GLYNN: Tourism funds aim to promote upstate

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls as well as other upstate tourist destinations are bound to benefit from a commitment by two major downstate government agencies.

Under a partnership announced during the New York State Tourism Summit in Albany last week, the Power Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will provide $2 million worth of advertising space on subways, bus and commuter rail systems and at many airport arrival points and kiosks to promote the Niagara area, the Lockport Locks & Canal Cruises, Buffalo, the Finger Lakes, Letchworth State Park (“The Grand Canyon of the East”) and dozens of upstate destinations. If the effort succeeds, countless passengers on transit systems in metropolitan New York will see posters at stations, platforms and in rail cars, encouraging people to explore the Empire State.

“New York state has some of the most beautiful attractions in the world. From the peaks of the Adirondacks to the beaches of Long Island,” Gov. Cuomo stated in a press release prior to the summit. No mention of Niagara. (Probably just an oversight, but it is curious that the two destinations listed have close ties to the two highest state government officials: Cuomo’s favorite spot for camping and canoing is the Adirondacks while Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is a longtime Long Island resident). 

That same news release  disclosed that the state was investing nearly $60 million in tourism funding. Last year, that total was $19 million, one of the lowest in years.

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SCANDAL: Former Niagara University president the Rev. Donald Harrington, C.M., announced last week that he was stepping down as the head of St. John’s, one of the nation’s largest Catholic universities. He said his resignation would be effective July 31.

Harrington and his chief of staff, Rob Wile, are both departing the campus in New York City as the school investigates their links to a former dean who killed herself while on trial for embezzling $1 million. Testimony in court showed that both Harrington and Wile received expensive gifts (e.g vacations, suits and watches) from the woman known as the “Dean of Mean,” Cecilia Chang as she continued to steal from the school to cover her costly lifestyle. At the trial it was disclosed that Harrington received more than 40 custom-made suits from Hong Kong, Patek Phillipe watches, and stays at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in Hawaii.

During a blistering cross-examination at the trial, Harrington said he did not receive a salary, but received a $200 per month stipend and also subsisted on an inheritance. A federal judge ruled that he did not have to answer a question about how much he inherited.

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PLACING BETS: It seems that Gov. Cuomo isn’t at all interested in even discussing exactly where those new casinos would be located until voters first approve the constitutional amendment. As one upstate editorial writer observed: “What he’s asking for, in essence, is for lawmakers and citizens to roll the dice first, and worry later.

Obviously there’s a serious question whether the market could sustain another (non-Inidan) casino in downtown Niagara Falls. 

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ON THE ROAD: That portable radar unit along the upper section of the Robert Moses Parkway, alerting motorists entering the Niagara Falls State Park, is apparently proving effective. Many of those drivers coming from the North Grand Island Bridge or the LaSalle Expressway are going at least 55 miles per hour and are unaware of the speed limit reduced to 35 mph in that stretch parallel to the eastern end of Goat Island. Lt. Clyde Doty of the state park police said it’s his impression that drivers are, in fact, slowing down. In the past, the police have been dealing with a number of incidents where motorists were speeding in that area.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Overheard at the Polish Nook, Cudabeck Avenue: “You know you’re having a bad day when your birthday cake collapses under the weight of the candles.” — a customer celebrating a milestone.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.