Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 1, 2013

Cuomo defers when asked about Hamister hotel project

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — One area of concern, according to Choolokian, is the lack of language that actually locks the developer into building a hotel on the land. 

“It seems that everyone has a strong opinion on this development package, but almost no one has been able to read it,” Choolokian said.  

“Those pages have holes that a truck can be driven through,” he added. 

Fruscione questioned what he described as “a troubling reverter clause” in the proposed agreement that could “cost the city millions of dollars if we needed to take the land back.” Fruscione also suggested the documents gives “a suspicious amount of power” to Mayor Paul Dyster while “removing the city council from the picture.” 

“It shouldn’t have to always be a constant request for transparency from city government,” Fruscione said. “When Mayor Dyster took office, he pledged to bring a high level of transparency to city hall, but it never seems to go that way. I believe the residents and taxpayers should be able to study this document for themselves.”

On Wednesday, Dyster denied the council majority’s assertion that the process leading up to the selection of the developer and the creation of the proposed development agreement was less than fully transparent. He noted that Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson - who serves both the council and the mayor’s office — was involved in all project talks during the entire process. 

“Anything that is in there they had access to,” Dyster said, referring to the terms of the proposed development agreement. 

Dyster said members of the council majority also are incorrect in their suggestion that he was personally involved in negotiations with Hamister. He said the terms of the development agreement were handled by Johnson, representatives from Hamister and USA Niagara and attorneys from the firm, Jaeckle Fleischmann, who worked on the agreement on the city’s behalf. 

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