Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 4, 2013

CITY DESK: 'The Grand Lady' of the Falls

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — By that time, supporters of the building had developed a clear plan for its reuse: The city’s first — and to this date only — arts and cultural center. 

When Pataki stepped up, the building was in desperate need of some serious repairs. The state’s generous gift helped make that happen, and more. 

Today, the resurrection of the old high school as the NACC is one of the city’s great recent success stories. It is the exact opposite of the sort of thing that tends to happen in this downtrodden town. When faced with the possibility of losing a valuable local resource, regular people got together, stood up and stopped it from happening. 

They loved “The Grand Lady” too much to let her go. 

For years now, city residents and their kids have been enjoying all that the NACC has to offer — artwork created by local artists, music performed by local musicians, dance and theatrical pieces put on by local performers. In a city sorely lacking in family friendly offerings, the NACC has done its part to help fill the void. 

And, yes, each year the organization holds the Art of Beer, an event that serves as one of its primary fundraisers.

Some people — including a pair of city lawmakers — are now questioning the use of city funds tied to the event, suggesting it poses a serious conflict given that Mayor Paul Dyster — whose family owns a beer-making business — has been involved since its inception. 

Beyond that, they say, the NACC hasn’t quite been pulling its own weight, relying instead on city taxpayers to pick up the tab for, as Councilman Sam Fruscione so put it, “boozy parties,” among other things. 

There’s one thing I’ve learned having covered the ups and downs of the former Niagara Falls High School from the beginning — there are a lot of residents willing to fight for it. 

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