Niagara Gazette — Another year of uncertainty stands in front of the city of Niagara Falls.
As 2013 begins, the city enters into its fourth year without the casino revenue it was promised in the 2002 gaming compact between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state.
While many prognosticators have predicted the dispute will be settled in the first half of 2013 — whether through arbitration or through a settlement — many in the city remain skeptical.
They’ve heard those predictions before.
Mayor Paul Dyster, now in the second year of his second term, remains optimistic.
While he understands the potential pitfalls the city faces as a result of its financial situation, he remains enthusiastic about the progress the city has made in recent years and the potential for more positive changes to come.
“There’s going to be this engine trying to move forward and accelerate the pace of economic development,” Dyster said during a recent sit-down interview with the Niagara Gazette. “And then there’s going to be this anchor sort of holding everything back. That’s going to be all of these nagging worries about the city’s cash position, liquidity, and about our ability to take the steps that need to be taken to bring our revenues and expenditures into balance.”
With many capital projects already under way in the spring, residents will see the city come to life with the continuation of projects that have already begun, according to Dyster. The final touches are set to be put on the painfully long Lewiston Road saga. Buffalo Avenue — another severely deteriorated road — is scheduled to be rebuilt. The final phase of the $44 million Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center will get going once the final snows have melted.
But if the city doesn’t receive some or all of the $60 million that has been withheld since the Senecas stopped paying the state gaming revenues in 2009, it is unclear how it will continue to pay for these projects.