Niagara Gazette


May 3, 2010

Pride and Jayne Park in LaSalle

NIAGARA FALLS — City council president Sam Fruscione’s recent comments to the Niagara Gazette are ridiculous and filled with half-truths.

He has charged that the city — by hiring a planning consultant — would “force” the old 2001 Jayne Park Master Plan down the throats of the Cayuga Island residents and the LaSalle community.

What complete nonsense. The proposed hiring by the city was to come up with a new (revised) plan that would respect currents needs for park improvements as directed by the community through hearings and consultations.

In his commentary, Fruscione has continued his six month-long campaign to propagate “disinformation” about the city grant. He has now added an attack on my (and others) personal integrity and questions my six years of service to the LaSalle community.

Does not the council member know that the City Council has twice in the last eight years approved submissions of the 2001 Jayne Park Master Plan to New York state for funding? Unless he is a victim of temporary insanity, he must remember he voted for its funding two years ago. And with his vote he pledged to match state funding with city funds.

The Jayne Park Master Plan was not “born in the board rooms” of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. Nor did Buffalo have “special interests in the plan” as Fruscione claims. The 2001 Plan was born of out of community hearings held in LaSalle. This plan was adopted four years before LaSalle PRIDE was formed in November, 2005 and seven years before there was a Niagara River Greenway Commission.

Fruscione should be seeking “common ground” on how to expend this grant for the benefit of the community. Instead, has chosen to charge LaSalle PRIDE, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Niagara River Greenway Commission, Tom DeSantis, Mayor Paul Dyster, and myself with a “conspiracy. The LaSalle community is smart enough to see through this charade. But for the record, it is an absolute lie.

We serve the people of this community and respect good planning. It is said “Service is the lifeblood of any organization. Everything flows from it and is nourished by it.” During the past six years, I have worked to improve the quality of life for the LaSalle neighborhood — and its “history, waterfront, people, and community.”   As a community organizer I have chosen to work with our public officials and the community — not to “force” anything down anyone’s throat.

I do not control the agenda of LaSalle PRIDE. LaSalle Pride members elect a 15-member board of directors. The board elects its officers. Since its formation I have served the organization as a part-time community organizer/adviser on policies the board of directors has adopted and as directed by the president of its board. I have urged the board to hold a meeting with Fruscione.

Fruscione has attributed to me this quote — “the Jayne Park plan won’t be decided by Cayuga Island residents it’ll be decided by the city administration and city wide residents.” I have never made such a statement. I expect him to retract it or provide proof of the source, the date and time of this quote.

It is not I who “continues to stir the pot of disinformation behind the scenes, alternately offering to modify the plan and appease the residents and then behind their backs accuse the homeowners of not knowing what’s best for the neighborhood.” Fruscione and his friends at that Niagara Falls Reporter are the ones stirring the pot of disinformation. The one thing they have managed to accomplish has been to foment animosity where none existed and to deny LaSalle neighbors the opportunity to revisit how these grant dollars should be spent.

Fruscione’s pathetic attack on my American patriotism — and his absurd comments about my Canadian and French backgrounds — smell of desperation. Bigotry should be below the dignity of a council president.

I am a U.S. citizen who once lived in Niagara Falls and my oldest son attended the very school where the council president teaches. Last year I received recognition by the International Joint Commission for my 20 years of environmental work associated with the Niagara River. I have helped establish eight nonprofit organizations here in Western New York. I won’t be lectured by the council president about my loyalty to our community.

Niagara Falls history is filled with experiences influenced by the Canadians and French. Dr. Luther Jayne (for whom the park was named) was Canadian born in St. Catharines, Ont. Many of the Cayuga Island streets like Joliet, Griffon, Hennepin and Champlain take their names from the French as does the name of the Falls itself — and of course the LaSalle neighborhood.

At the recent LaSalle Library meeting on Jayne Park several Cayuga Island residents suggested that the council reconsider its objections to expending the $290,000 for Jayne Park improvements. Several  spoke for:

• Upgrades to the children’s playground

• Husbandry of trees and new plantings

• New bathrooms

• Removal of the non-used baseball fencing and buildings

• Construction of a berm along the waterfront to prevent flooding

• Addition of a dog park/trail

• Installing benches and garbage cans, etc.

Hiring a consultant to meet with the community to sort out these recommendations seems reasonable. I would urge the council to reconsider its recent action and allow for a public consultation on the project to begin. The council still has the prerogative to veto any plan that it does not agree with.

Finally, the city has rejected further consideration of a launch at Jayne Park. LaSalle PRIDE — as advised by Cayuga Island residents — is now petitioning the city to install a LaSalle canoe launch in Griffon Park at the Little River overlook by the Griffon Rock.

LaSalle Pride does listen to the community.

Ken Sherman

LaSalle Pride

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