Niagara Gazette

August 4, 2013

Schumer arranges for another face-to-face meeting of mayor, NFR chairman

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster is hopeful a new sit-down opportunity with Niagara Falls Redevelopment Chairman Howard Milstein will finally spur some development on long-vacant property downtown.

At the behest of Sen. Charles Schumer, Dyster and Milstein will meet face-to-face for the first time in years after the property owner reportedly agreed this past week.

“It’s been some time since we’ve had a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Milstein,” Dyster said, recalling the previous edition, also set up by Schumer, in November of 2009. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with his local representatives and made some progress. But it’s always useful to sit down and talk with him.”

NFR currently owns hundreds of acres of land in the city’s South End, most notably a large, empty field across John B. Daly Boulevard from the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel complex.

It’s this land which Dyster said could be a focus of attention in the upcoming sit-down, because even dating back to 2009, issues between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state made it difficult to determine a proper course of action.

But thanks to a new exclusivity agreement and commitment from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Dyster said less uncertainty is hanging over the land’s value.

“There was some uncertainty of what would happen with the gaming compact hanging over the previous discussions (in November 2009),” Dyster said. “There’s a feeling we’re now at a crossroads concerning the land around the casino. With the issues presumably been resolved, it allows us to make plans with a greater degree of certainty.”

How certain? Dyster said conversations about NFR’s land use have gotten strong enough to warrant some optimism, but cautioned there’s still nothing set in stone.

But there has been more talks between the city and the development company than people know about, he said.

The next step is the meeting with Milstein, which Dyster said he’ll need his staff to prepare. So it won’t happen in a few days. Dyster said the meeting will commence likely in a matter of weeks rather than days or months.

A representative from Schumer’s office confirmed the agreement to meet by both parties, but was unable to provide additional details. An NFR representative did not return an email request for comment prior to Niagara Gazette press time.

mug of Dyster, Paul Paul Dyster Talking with NFR

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.