Niagara Gazette

Columns

July 24, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Council chairman sounds off on Hamister hotel project

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

At the grocery store, at youth baseball and at church I am approached by residents who believe the time has finally come to ask the tough questions and to do the right thing for the taxpayers. This is a struggling city and I value the sincere remarks of my fellow residents over the cold business calculations of those who see Niagara Falls as place to turn a profit and residents be-damned.

On July 8, USA Niagara brought out its heavy guns, but they didn’t bring out the details and history of how they selected Hamsiter. On that day Kenneth Adams the CEO of the state economic development agency said “What’s the message Niagara Falls wants to send to the investment community?”

I never met Mr. Adams but I think he should consider what message the state wants to send to the Niagara Falls community. Our residents put this city council in office and they expect responsible, honest representation for their vote. Mr. Adams condescending attitude could be summarized as, “Albany knows what’s best for Niagara Falls.” Sorry Mr. Adams, but we know what Albany has done for Niagara Falls: The Parkway, the Parkway modification, the NY Power Authority, development of Niagara Reservation State Park, 52 acres of our downtown gone, ten year casino compact extension and the creation of USA Niagara.

USA Niagara was dropped on us 10 years ago because Niagara Falls, in the eyes of Albany, couldn’t get development done. It’s no secret that Niagara Falls has made mistakes in the past 40 years (has New York state made any mistakes?) but the record of USA Niagara can hardly be considered a success.

There’s been more than $4 million spent on the Third Street redevelopment. Much of the renovations are in disrepair: metal grates missing around tress, signs off their bases with large bolts exposed, pavers sinking in the street, boarded up windows. Close to $10 million was spent on Old Falls Street and still it has no tourism commercial presence but it does have those same sinking pavers. The verdict is out on the Culinary Arts project and studies and more studies are being done regarding the future of the rest of the Rainbow Centre. And those studies are not to be confused with the “parking study” that’s under way. The only significant downtown activity for the past five years has been costly free summer concerts funded by the taxpayers.

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