Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 1, 2009

USA NIAGARA: The ‘Times Square’ promise

Years after infamous claim, downtown still struggling to find identity

Former Gov. George Pataki signaled the beginning of a “new chapter” in the history of Niagara Falls in January of 2001 — the formation of USA Niagara Development Corp.

The division of the state economic development department was formed with the express purpose of bringing a “brighter and stronger” future to the city’s downtown business district.

In theory, the new organization was supposed to create the same sort of public-private sector partnerships that had helped the state revitalize Times Square in New York City.

In practice, Pataki’s big promise has been slow to materialize.

Or at least slower to materialize than many residents and business owners in Niagara Falls had hoped.

“We’re not trying to criticize or attack,” said Dan Vecchies, one Third Street developer who has expressed frustration about a lack of progress downtown. “We’re asking for accountability. They haven’t done what they set out to do.”

The agency’s current president, Christopher Schoepflin, insists USA Niagara has done a lot in its eight years on the job. He believes critics have ignored progress that has already been made. He notes the agency has endured some significant challenges — the aftermath of 9/11, the abrupt departure of Pataki’s successor, Eliot Spitzer and the current economic crisis to name a few. He also said his team does not operate in a vacuum and other partners, including the city and its private investors, all play crucial roles in the success of the downtown business district.

“I would take the position that given the amount of resources that we have and have invested, we have made significant progress amid a number of challenges,” said Schoepflin, who has led USA Niagara since 2003. “I can’t speak to going all the way back to day one other than to say we had a marketplace that had suffered from decades of disinvestment and decline. Not only have we stemmed that to a certain degree, but I think, in some cases, we have reversed it.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
House Ads
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page

Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
Don't care. Smoking isn't good for you.
     View Results