by Mike Hudson
Inquiring minds want to know: What’s the big hurry to get City Controller Maria Brown out of office next week when Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster is letting City Administrator Donna Owens hang around until July 8?
Both women were canned by the mayor in the same press release on May 16. Replacing Brown, who Dyster said will stay on with the city in the role of senior auditor, will require a majority vote by the city Council. Dyster can have whomever he wants as city administrator and, in the same press release, stated that he wants the politically savvy Nick Melson, whom he hired as an “executive assistant” in the run-up to last year’s election to help him in his campaign.
by Mike Hudson
Back in 2010, for Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, it was all about high speed rail. President Barack Obama had committed to funding the concept, with New York State alone to receive $151 million to promote the concept. Dyster used the publicity to justify spending $44 million on a new train station here, and the suckers bought right in.
The now abandoned Empire Corridor proposal — a designated route between Buffalo and Albany — did not call for an extension of high-speed rail service from Buffalo to Niagara Falls to begin with, but Dyster argued that should not be viewed as an indication the city is being left out of the region’s overall rail improvement plans.
by Mike Hudson & Frank Parlato
Since no lease agreement exists between Amtrak and the city for space in the Whirlpool Street “Intermodal Transportation Center,” there is no guarantee that Amtrak will move into the $44 million facility at all, much less any sort of agreement as to how much of the 22,000-square-feet of space it will require or how much it will be willing to pay to rent that space.
Since 1978, Amtrak officials have been quite content with the 800 square feet they operate on Willard Avenue near Lockport Road. Peak traffic at the Niagara Falls station averages 30 passengers an hour, an event that occurs no more than four times each day. The smallish waiting room, about the size of a good sized dentist’s office, never lacks for seating, even with the hustle and bustle of 15 people getting on a train as another 15 disembark.
The Niagara Falls International Railway Station & Intermodal Transportation Center – a name which is, by the way, a mouthful of grammatically contorted & ponderously laughable exaggeratedly glorified windy pretentiousness and with its nine word name it is an example of name sprawl.
Of the 51 railroad stations in America that presently use the word “Intermodal” in their official name, the longest names have five words: Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center; Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center; Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.
by Jim Ostrowski
This may come as a shock but I have a slightly different take on the corruption scandal that led to the indictment and conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. I like to start with origins when analyzing historical events. So let’s begin at the beginning. Preet Bharara is a Democrat with degrees from uber-progressive Harvard and Columbia. He worked for uber-progressive US Senator Chuck Schumer for five years before being appointed by President Barrack Obama to be the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, the progressive capital of the world basically. Beware Greeks bearing gifts.
by Matt Ricchiazzi
If we could ever put the interests of institutional advancement over the prissy sensibilities of cynics, we may be able to make something spectacular of the The Albright–Knox Art Gallery which barely earns 200,000 attendees annually at its Delaware Park location. To put that in perspective, the Niagara Falls State Park attracts more than eight million visitors per year and the Canadian side attracts another 14 million.
By moving the Albright-Knox across the street from the state park [there is plenty of undeveloped land in downtown Niagara Falls], we could elevate the institution to global prominence. By placing an architecturally jawing museum within the photo-frame of Niagara Falls, we will make the institution instantly recognizable to global audiences, yielding newfound stature and influence that comes from a global stage.
by Joseph Kissel
Straight from the pockets of commuters and tourists, the Grand Island tolls bring in $18 million a year for the NYS Thruway Authority.
And they also create pollution and rush-hour traffic jams virtually any time of the year but especially during the region’s critical tourist season.
“It’s just so ridiculous,” said Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray.
“The Thruway Authority told me that the money from the bridge is being used to pave the I-90,” he said. “Is that $18 million enough to justify the pollution and traffic jams on this regions’ major conduit from north to south?”
by Joseph Kissel
It’s certainly one of the nicest, best-maintained houses on 18th Street.
Inside, the meticulously clean house has been thoroughly updated while retaining the original architectural details that make this middle-class Niagara Falls home unique.
Part of what makes that home unique is the owner, an Airbnb “superhost” who’s been a part of the “sharing economy” for nearly two years.
“We’re not a hotel,” said the owner of the 18th street house. “We’re not a bed and breakfast. We’re hot a hostel. We are a sharing economy. It’s a different type of business model.”
by Mike Hudson
Six years ago, Dick Palladino ran to become business manager of Laborers Local 91 here based on a single premise – to clean up the once troubled union, and rid it of the last vestiges of the corrupt element that once controlled it for as long as most people could remember.
Since the early 1960s, the Laborers had been controlled by Michael “Butch” Quarcini with the assistance of a gang of toughs known within the union as the “Goon Squad.”
On construction sites, contractors who wouldn’t play ball often became the victims of assault, arson and theft. Millions of dollars worth of construction equipment was destroyed, and many well known contractors in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio simply refused to work in Niagara Falls out of fear.
by Tony Farina
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Niagara Falls Councilmen Kenny Tompkins and Ezra Scott Jr., the Niagara Falls Memorial Day Parade will launch the holiday weekend on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at City Market and continue down Pine Avenue, eventually concluding at the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial where a ceremony will be held.
There was a brief moment last March when reports surfaced that due to a lack of city funding, there would be no Memorial Day Parade this year. Fortunately, Tompkins, Scott, and retired City Court Judge Angelo Morinello stepped forward with Morinello becoming the parade’s prime sponsor. Many others also stepped forward as well, and the parade has been re-christened the Community Memorial Day Parade.
by Frank Parlato
Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard, once again, is reminding motorists that the nanny state ‘Click It or Ticket’ revenue generator will be in effect between May 23 to June 5, just ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
The county sheriff’s department says it will likely set up checkpoints and inspect and search cars in its efforts to force people to wear seatbelts.
And they will give tickets worth perhaps tens of thousands of dollars to citizens who thought they would make their own safety decisions inside their own property [car].