Niagara Gazette

June 14, 2012

EDITORIAL: Help us help Howard

Niagara Gazette editorial
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Hello to all the the international press and tourists in Niagara Falls today. We'd like to welcome you all to our little city.

As you've probably already noticed, this is a great little city, and we never tire of hearing visitors gasp at the beauty of our waterfalls in the state park. But we are clearly beset with problems familiar to those who live in communities that made their fortunes in industry and now find themselves with hives of abandoned factories.

We're struggling to regroup after decades of difficulties with corrupt labor unions and the cavalier handling of toxic waste that made the words "Love Canal" internationally famous in the ’70s.

But we are coming back. And, with the eyes of the world upon us this day, we'd be remiss if we didn't say that there are a lot of opportunities in the city of Niagara Falls. Accomplished developers are moving in, renovating and building new hotels like the newly Giacomo on First Street, created from an abandoned office building, and the newly renovated Sheraton Four Points on Buffalo Avenue. There's also a new hotel going up on Rainbow Boulevard across from our soon to be opened college culinary school, built from the remains of an old mall, adjacent to our lovely new plaza on Old Falls Street.

Yes, things are looking up for this city. The investors are returning. So we feel an obligation to take a page from our current international headliner, Nik Wallenda, and ask you to consider investing in our future. 

If you can't do that, perhaps you would passing our name along to any billionaires you might know. The one we already have emptied a huge swatch of land just north of the Seneca Niagara Casino. And like any good land speculator, he's been holding his cards close to his chest, mowing the grass on the 145 acres and keeping it maintained. He's actually better that way than some other speculators that are holding up progress around here. 

But there are families and churches surrounding the huge parcel of land in the heart of our city and we think it would be easier for them to flourish if those blocks of mostly empty land and vacant buildings were sold to someone who might change them into affordable housing or — dreaming big here — some sort of amusement park where tourists could perhaps "walk a tightrope" over the falls and "ride a barrel" over the brink. Maybe it could include rides that teach children our amazingly rich history. Or maybe someone might like to create an artists community, where we could draw artists from all of the world.

Anyway, you get the idea. Our billionaire, Howard Milstein, — who was recently appointed by our governor as state commissioner of our Thruway Authority — is holding tight until the market changes. In that way he's like hundreds of others in our city, all holding their cards to their chest, including internet investors from all over the world who have bought abandoned houses for dirt cheap online and then left them untended. Thankfully, that practice has been stopped now, due to new city policies which require the landowner to register themselves as property owners.

Anyway, we hope you all have a wonderful time this weekend.  If you're looking for Italian food, we'd advise you to open the phone book, close your eyes and pick one. They're all good. Our Indian restaurants keep getting better and better as well. And of course, there are wonderful things to see all over the region. Check the web, including for more info.

As for Nik, all we can really say is, we hope he has a great walk!  And we hope all our visitors have one as well.