Niagara Gazette

September 18, 2013

EDITORIAL: Thanks not deserved for Hamister approval

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It’s difficult to laud Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. for doing what we believe he and his colleagues in the Niagara Falls City Council majority should have done weeks ago. 

That being said, we’re glad — as are, we trust, the majority of city residents — to see Anderson come to his senses and reverse course on the stalled Hamister hotel project. 

As a result of his actions this week, the city and the state can now look forward to working with the Buffalo-based Hamister Group to build a $25 million, multi-story hotel and mixed use building on a piece of city owned land most recently used for parking cars at 310 Rainbow Blvd. 

Anderson insisted his sudden change of heart had nothing to do with the loss of fellow council majority member Sam Fruscione in last week’s Democratic primary for council. Instead, he said, all it took was a direct phone call from high-ranking state economic development official Sam Hoyt to change his mind. 

Honestly, we’re not sure what to believe anymore. 

What we do know is that all three members of the council majority come from working-class backgrounds and its obvious they take great pride in their community. 

That’s why it is so disappointing to realize they put politics and political games ahead of one of their community’s most pressing needs — economic development. It’s also why we are not willing to overlook their actions or forgive them regardless of what Anderson finally decided to do. 

As far as we’re concerned, the actions of the council majority contributed to the waste of one of the most valuable of all commodities to developers and community’s alike: Time. 

And how many times have members of the council majority railed against “Buffalo interests?” To know the majority’s position was reinforced by the supporters of the political action committee known as the WNY Progressive Caucus only makes this situation worse. The group, which counts among its contributors former Erie County Democratic Party Chairman and one-time One Niagara co-owner Steve Pigeon, came clean and admitted, under pressure from the local media that it was responsible for the now-infamous anonymous campaign mailer that lauded Fruscione for standing firm on the hotel deal while accusing developer Mark Hamister of attempting to run a “con game” by daring to advance the project here. 

It was a disappointing and despicable display, one we would encourage voters in Niagara Falls to remember come election time despite Anderson’s sudden interest in “bringing the community together” and “doing what’s right for the good of the whole.”

Those words sound good now. They would have sounded a whole lot better if they were said, with real meaning, back in July when this deal could and should have been done.

We’re more interested in thanking and congratulating the two men we believe played the most instrumental roles in preventing the $25 million investment from being scuttled. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the key telephone call to convince Mark Hamister to stick around a little longer. Hamister was gracious enough, despite the horrific mudslinging and nonsense he had to endure, to hear the governor out and remain committed to the project. 

A much-needed project in downtown Niagara Falls is finally ready to move forward thanks to them both. 

Of them we would ask only one more thing: Do not judge the content of the character of an entire community based on the actions of a select few.