Print Edition – July 27, 2017

July 27, 2017 Staff 41

Cuomo preparing to expand state park by seizing private property?

July 27, 2017 Mike Hudson 76
A: The proposed site of Wonderfalls. B: One Niagara. C: The Seneca Casino D: The Giacomo Hotel, E: Proposed site of the taxpayer subsidized Hamister hotel. F: The Niagara Falls State Park. G. The old Turtle Bldg. H: The Comfort Inn. I: The Old Hotel Niagara (vacant). J. City parking lot. K: Hard Rock Cafe.
Was the recent proposal by Niagara Falls Redevelopment to build a $205 million hotel on the site of the long-vacant Native American Center for the Living Arts, better known as “the Turtle,” designed to fend off a proposal by the state to seize it and other downtown properties under eminent domain? Documents made available to the Niagara Falls Reporter and sources with knowledge of the state’s plan indicate that might be the case. In addition to the Turtle, other parcels being targeted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo include the One Niagara building, the former Niagara Club and Mark Hamister’s nondescript Hyatt Place hotel – which is still under construction. The “WonderFalls” project, to allegedly be built by Uniland Development, is also a part of the overall scheme. Certainly, NFR can’t be blamed. The company is merely trying to protect its investment. While city and state officials described the proposal as suspicious, one has to wonder what Mr. Cuomo, Mayor Paul Dyster or Sam Hoyt, the state’s regional director of Empire State Development, have ever actually developed.
The Niagara Experience Center – finally to be built at the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Turtle?
None of them has a business background, all having sucked at the government teat for most if not all of their adult lives. The cluster of properties, under both public and private ownership, curve past the Niagara River and Niagara Falls State Park along the edge of the city. They range from small pieces of unoccupied but prime real estate to derelict buildings that have sat neglected for years, despite their closeness to the falls, the Rainbow Bridge or the Niagara Gorge. The use of eminent domain is nothing new in the city of Niagara Falls. Prior to the Seneca Niagara Casino opening in 2002, the state used the controversial tactic to seize numerous properties and businesses in order to create a 50-acre mini-reservation on which the casino, smoke shop, gas station and hotel are located. Formerly, the city received between $16 million and $21 million a year from the Seneca for the property and the exclusive right to operate a casino here, but when the agreement between the tribe and the state was extended for 20 years in 2013, Gov. Cuomo forgot to include a provision that the payments continue as well. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said he thinks the state seizing a large portion of the most valuable property in the city he governs is a peachy idea. “Everybody has a pretty fair idea of what properties have been developed and what properties have not,” said Mr. Dyster. “The contrast gets more and more stark year by year.” He didn’t mention that Niagara Falls would lose more than a million dollars annually in property tax revenue should the Cuomo plan go forward. The move was quietly announced in January as part of the second phase of Cuomo’s scandal-plagued “Buffalo Billion” economic development program. Cuomo’s Strategic Land Acquisition Program would invest state taxpayer dollars to buy up some of the properties and then solicit others to develop them. It’s part of a larger push that also includes creating 125 new acres of parkland along the gorge. What it is, in other words, is a land grab designed to expand the state park and channel even more tourism dollars away from the city and into the Albany treasury. Mayor Dyster maintains that government is the answer to revitalizing the city. “I would hope that anyone out there that has been speculatively holding onto properties in downtown Niagara Falls with no intention to develop them, with hope of a windfall sometime in the future, that they would take note of the governor’s initiative,” he told reporters in January. Gov. Cuomo proposed the land acquisition fund for underused properties earlier this year as part of Buffalo Billion II. Mr. Hoyt said the State Legislature approved $24 million for the purpose. He said the state intends to start working on land acquisitions “soon.” The area has several high-profile properties that have been vacant or underused, according to the governor. Joe Anderson, owner of Smokin’ Joe’s Trading Post in Sanborn, owns 16 properties in the targeted zone. In addition to vacant land and a vacant two-story building, his holdings include Smokin’ Joe’s Indian Trading Post.
One Niagara is on Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Dyster’s eminent domain hit list, mostly since it doesn’t owe them anything in return for government subsidies it never received.
Originally build in 1865 as a private residence, the former Niagara Club building at 24 Buffalo Ave. housed a private social club until it closed in 1996, and was later used as a banquet facility before the Patel family acquired it in 2009. It now has an Indian restaurant, but the Patels say they plan to redevelop it into a family-friendly dining facility within the next year. “Those are some strategic locations,” said Christopher Glynn, CEO of Maid of the Mist Co., which also owns the Comfort Inn The Pointe across from the state park. “There will be better opportunity with the state having control of them.” “I think it’s very important,” said William Paladino, whose company owns the Giacomo Hotel, Haeberle Plaza and the former Niagara Gazette building. “This will certainly help them provide some more shovel-ready sites to assist some of these residential neighborhoods. The blight in some of these neighborhoods is pretty extreme.” NFR, one of the most prominent property owners in the city, has been the target of complaints for years, having assembled vast local holdings but not doing anything with them. The state used eminent domain to take the site of the former Niagara Splash Water Park in 2006, giving it to Seneca Gaming Corp. as part of the Seneca Nation’s casino development deal. “There’s (sic) memories in this community of the Splash Park parcel,” Mr. Dyster said. “That, of course, involved Niagara Falls Redevelopment, where they reopened the splash park briefly right before the parcel was taken for inclusion in the Seneca compact land, and appealed the price and subsequently got a major payday out of that.” Companies called Fallsville Splash and Fallsite, in which NFR was associated with Niagara Falls attorney John P. Bartolomei, were paid $18 million for the Splash Park in 2006, a year after the park was reactivated following a decade of idleness. The WonderFalls proposal, announced in summer 2014, has been delayed as negotiations continue between the developer and the state on a formal agreement. The ugly divorce between Uniland and Delaware North did not help matters. Uniland Vice President Michael Montante told reporters a collective effort is needed, not a single silver bullet. “We planned for Wonder Falls to be a piece of the solution to restoring Niagara Falls as a competitive tourism destination,” Mr. Montante said. “Other stay-extenders are needed so we can earn our fair market share of the tourists that descend upon both sides of the falls every day. “ The whole thing smells like a revival of the “urban renewal” that gutted the downtown in the 1970s, said former city Councilwoman and current Council candidate Candra Thomason. “Urban renewal was the biggest disaster ever to hit this city, worse than Love Canal,” she said. “Now again, they’re looking to eminent domain to throw people out of their homes and shut down businesses. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Seneca, state combining to take over, rob Niagara Falls

July 27, 2017 Mike Hudson 56
How long will it take? That is, how long will it take before the Seneca Nation of Indians and the State of New York are in complete control of Niagara Falls. If Mayor Paul Dyster had his way, it would be sooner rather than later. Clearly, neither the Seneca nor Gov. Andrew Cuomo have much interest in the dwindling number of people who actually live here. Property owned by the tribe and the state is tax exempt, while those who own homes and businesses pay some of the highest taxes in the country. The crumbling neighborhoods, stretching from the Seneca Niagara Casino to the city’s North End, have largely been abandoned by the government, and promised residential development by the Seneca has yet to take place 15 years after the casino opened. The tribe did open a hotel, which pays no taxes, and the biggest gas station in the city, which also pays no taxes. When you gas up you can also buy a carton of untaxed cigarettes that might kill you, if you’re lucky.

Normal, hardworking, taxpaying people are leaving the city in droves. They’re sick and tired of paying top dollar to live in the most dangerous city in New York, one of the most dangerous in the entire country. read more

Court candidate Roscetti guest panelist at Bishop Dobbs’ Fellowship meet

July 27, 2017 Staff 57

Bishop Kevin Dobbs of the Christ Redemption Tabernacle Church conducted the Men of Valor conference on July 15, 2017. It was held at the CRT Community Fellowship Banquet hall at 331 22nd Street in Niagara Falls, New York. The church is conducting a series of conference to have its congregants meet and have discussion with various people in the community who have had considerable success. At the first meeting, the guests were Alan James Roscetti, local attorney and candidate for Niagara Falls City Court Judge, County Legislator Owen Steed, Rev. Kevin Wing of the Isaiah 57 Project, Niagara Falls Police Officer Raul Parker, Willie Dunn of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority and Ron Cunningham, community activist and parent-student advocate, among others on the panel. Bishop Dobbs stated that the purpose of the conferences was to expose the church’s membership, especially the males, to positive aspects of the community. read more

Most dangerous place upstate? Welcome to Dyster’s Niagara!

July 27, 2017 Mike Hudson 61
Buffalo and Niagara Falls have been ranked the third and first most dangerous places to live in upstate New York, according to the latest data available from the FBI. Niagara Falls, of course, having the dubious honor of being first. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s efforts to tie the hands of city policemen behind their backs has been an unqualified success. The recently released 2015 crime statistics data placed the city’s overall number of violent crimes for 2015 as 555, with the city’s population at 48,989. That’s right. You have a better than 1-in-100 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in the coming year. Congratulations. That number is higher than New York City, Los Angeles, Detroit or even Chicago. Buffalo’s overall number of violent crimes for 2015 was 2,887, when the city’s population was 258,096. The popular website NewYorkUpstate.com ranked the cities as first and third on their “20 most dangerous places to live” list for 2017, utilizing the recently released FBI data and their own “crime score” formula, which is found by weighing violent crimes and property crimes at different rates by the overall crimes per person. Niagara Falls took the top spot with a crime score of 1938. In the 2016 list, the city was ranked second. Buffalo, finishing third, had a crime score of 1761. The city was ranked first in the 2016 listing. Second on this year’s list is the Village of Johnson City in Broome County. Previously Niagara Falls, the small town with big dreams, was ranked as the 44th Most Dangerous City in the entire United States by a website specializing in information for prospective home buyers and business entrepreneurs. According to the website NeighborhoodScout.com – which was essentially created to help people decide where they might want to live and do business – there were 3,460 crimes committed in the small city of 49,468 souls, nearly 600 of which were violent offenses. What makes NeighborhoodScout’s analysis more comprehensive than others is the fact that the website takes into account all 7,000 law enforcement agencies in America for each city with a population more than 25,000. Many cities across the country, including Niagara Falls, are served by more than one agency: they include municipal police, county sheriff, transit police, university or campus police, public school police, park and port police, tribal police, and more. By using this unique method, the website is able to provide an accurate representation of total crime known to occur within a city or town – not just those reported by a single agency. “Once this complete count of known crimes is assembled for each city in America, we leveled the playing field by dividing the number of violent crimes by the population of each city,” the website states. “This reveals the violent crime rate per 1,000 population, allowing us to compare and rank the cities. The results are eye-opening.” The most notable myth shot down by the study is the perception that large cities are the only places that are dangerous. But high violent crime rates are less about city size than they are about economic issues that drive away the educated and affluent as they pursue employment elsewhere, and draw in and retain the less well-off and less mobile, the report states. That is certainly the case in Niagara Falls, the most heavily taxed municipality in the most heavily taxed state in the nation. Poverty and street level crime have become big business here, with most of the top earners in the city being members of the police department, the fire department or the higher ups in the school district and various social service agencies taxpayers support to deal with society’s down-and-out. The report states that just 3 percent of municipalities across the entire country are more dangerous than Niagara Falls, including Camden, NJ, which ranked number one on the most dangerous list. As with so many things on the Niagara Frontier, the growing problem of street crime just keeps getting worse with each passing year. Those who have to live here know it is dangerous. It is only the politicians and others with a vested interest in pretending everything is all right who insist otherwise. Clearly, whatever it is the elected and appointed leadership of the region has been doing to fix the problem has not been working. City Councilman Andy Touma once famously said that crime is not a major problem in Niagara Falls. The FBI would disagree.
Councilman Andy Touma, who lives in DeVeaux, doesn’t think crime is much of a problem in Niagara Falls.

The Right Side

July 27, 2017 Staff 38

By J Gary DiLaura

YOUR ASSESSMENT… GAR ASSOCIATES…VISITING A TOWN NEAR YOU!

TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION?

As you know, cities and towns in Niagara County, the highest taxed county in the ENTIRE United States, are reassessing the value of your properties. Why? To increase your taxes! Oh, they say the assessed value is below MARKET value but… MARKET value is an ESTIMATED value not a true “value”. When you sell your property to someone who wants it, THAT’S market value… oops, I forgot, there’s the NY State “definitions” of MARKET value that sort of interfere with the actual selling price. It must be a non-distressed sale and an “arms length transaction” for it to be MARKET value. Wait… there’s a definition of “arms length”… OMG is there an end to it… NO?! read more

Sex offender population grows larger every day under Mayor Dyster

July 27, 2017 Mike Hudson 54
The number of registered sex offenders living in the city of Niagara Falls has skyrocketed to an all time high of 199, according to the popular website homefacts.com. Homefacts.com is a site often used by prospective home owners to determine where they want to live. Obviously, nobody wants to live near sex offenders, which is in part a reason why the city’s population has taken a nosedive. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster has had an open door policy toward registered sex offenders since 2009, when he told a shocked group of parents at the Niagara Street Elementary School that these loathed and loathsome individuals have “got to live somewhere.” Mr. Dyster used the city’s pervert population to prop up the results of the 2010 census, when the city barely scraped past a population of 50,000, the number needed to secure HUD grants and other state and federal monies that Niagara Falls needs to stay out of bankruptcy. When the mayor took office in 2007, there were just 82 convicted sexual predators living here. The rest arrived, from all over the state and country, on his watch. Pieces of garbage like Al Williams, of 725 Townsend Place, who was convicted of having sexual contact with a girl under the age of 11 in 2007, or Albert Smith, 5655 Niagara Falls Blvd., who was convicted of sexually abusing a child less than 14 years old in 2003.
Albert Smith
Al Williams
Alejo Ayala, who lives upstairs at 459 Ninth St., was convicted of multiple sexual assaults on a child under the age of 13, and Anthony King of 2202 Falls St. is a convicted rapist.
Anthony King
Alejo Ayala
Mayor Paul Dyster
They have to live somewhere, Mayor Paul Dyster tells us, and that may be true. But do they have to live next door to us? Records show that the 199 registered sex offenders in Niagara Falls, a ratio of 39.85 sex offenders per 10,000 residents, is more than double than the national average of 15.96 sex offenders per 10,000 residents. Since no one will hire them and their families often don’t want to have anything to do with them, registered sex offenders are completely dependent upon the various social services agencies that serve the Niagara Falls community for food, clothing, shelter, medical care and psychological counseling. They represent the top of the pyramid in an economy that is increasingly based on the care and feeding of those who cannot or will not care for and feed themselves. The disproportionately high number of registered sex offenders living in Niagara Falls is not something that happened by coincidence. It is the result of very deliberate public policy decisions made on the state and local level by elected and appointed officials charged with overseeing the city’s affairs. What the taxpayer gets to see are the results of such policies. To experience the poverty industry firsthand. And those results include property values in freefall, a municipality that no one wants to raise a family in and the dumbfounding ignorance of local officials who have allowed it to happen.

Niagara Falls Jokes

July 27, 2017 Staff 30

Gov. Cuomo was staying at the posh new Hotel Niagara and was about to go to sleep when there was a knock at his door. It turned out to be a pretty maid who told him, “I’ve come to turn down your bed,” to which the guv replied, “You wouldn’t be the first!”

***

A kid walks up to another kid at a Niagara Falls playground and tells him, “My daddy can beat up your daddy.”

The other kid replies, “Really? When?”

***

“I thought those people next door were drug dealers,” says a guy to his friend as they were sitting on their 19th Street porch drinking craft beers at one o’clock in the afternoon, “but it turns out, they’re Boy Scouts.” read more

Return of the King

July 27, 2017 Staff 16

By Matt Cole

The longstanding entrance music of Conor McGregor holds within its mighty verses the words “Right proudly high in Dublin town hung they out a flag of war”.

In the now famous words of The Notorious One “When one of us goes to war, we all go to war!”

The first shots in this war have been fired.

The battle of New York has begun.

Artvoice was there.

In Brooklyn, New York, 13,165 people including worldwide media outlets packed the Barclays Center. To watch a press conference. After hip hop artists and New York legends Swiss Beats and Doug E Fresh warmed up the crowd, Showtime VP Stephen Espinoza [who McGregor publicly and repeatedly dubbed “Weasel” after blaming him for McGregor’s mic being cut at the inaugural Mayweather/McGregor Press Conference in Los Angeles] was pulled from the stage, of his own event, prematurely as his speech was completely inaudible under the furious boos and jeers of the pro-Irish crowd. read more

Buffalo Niagara film fest centers on Niagara Falls for a change!

July 27, 2017 Mike Hudson 43
Bill Cowell
Bill Cowell is a movie buff’s movie buff. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, he’s the boss of the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival (BNFF) now celebrating its 11th season. “This season, we’re looking at capitalizing on the whole Niagara Falls legend and brand,” Mr. Cowell said. “It’s a location that’s both historic and has a unique place in the history of film.”  

Mr. Cowell founded the BNFF in 2006, and watched it quickly grow to be one of the largest and most exciting film festivals held in New York State. The festival has provided the breaking ground for many successful films such as “The Cake Eaters,” “Sinner” and “Christina,” and has attracted its own share of A-listers, including Robert Redford, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Culp, Louis Gossett Jr., Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts and Tom Sizemore over the years. read more

City Council Nixes State’s “Outdoor Recreation” plan

July 27, 2017 James Hufnagel 55
This graphic from the UB School of Architecture and Planning Alumni Magazine of a nature trail in Buffalo may give you an idea of what the state’s point person for the Niagara Gorge Outdoor Recreation proposal, Robert Sozanski, has in mind for the nature trails of the gorge.

USA Niagara, ESD bar media, disinvite NF Reporter correspondent from attending Info Tour

State Parks, NYPA and USA Niagara recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purpose of establishing activities such as bicycling, ziplining, rockclimbing and horseback riding at Niagara Falls State Park and along the Niagara Gorge, however, a resolution passed Monday by the City Council may have effectively strangled the initiative in the crib.

According to the 64-page “Outdoor Recreation and Programming & Associated Real Estate Development” RFP document, the three state agencies plan to adopt, in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s directives, a “synergistic approach to expand the entire outdoor recreational economy at Niagara… NOT to merely monetize a few of the most potentially profitable activities… in order to assist in growing visitorship and extending stays in the City of Niagara Falls, as well as to enhance the quality of life here.” read more

Email addresses of select Group invited on Niagara Gorge tour

July 27, 2017 Staff 56

Here is the complete list of email addresses that were sent notice of the Niagara Gorge site tour by USA Niagara and ESD. Not a single one of these entities or organization is based in Niagara Falls or Niagara County. Also note that there are no preservation or nature groups on the list.

amawabnoy13@gmail.com, adam.karaczynski@am.jll.com, atc@croweandcrowelaw.com, amirnawaz77@gmail.com, anthony@makecommunities.com, bryon_smith@wgresorts.com, bdeluke@montante.com, cstoebe@foit-albert.com, clare@plastic-craft.com, morgandavid457@gmail.com, marketing@wendelcompanies.com, dennis.wood@greyco.com, dkostrzewski@montante.com, donna.walcavage@stantec.com, ellen.baird@appleseedstrategy.com, eshafer@delawarenorth.com, Frank@AdvancedArchitecture.net, ciao@landmarkdevelopers.com, watsonadvancedstarlight@outlook.com, hdesai@xanterra.com, testteg7@gmail.com, stopat2@lycos.com, janete@studica.com, mantisinteriors@gmail.com, Jill@GoSportsArt.com, moore@boltonstjohns.com, imssjim@aol.com, fatkatkitty@msn.com, jcook@qpkdesign.com, jstewart@edrdpc.com, jlbeam@meengineering.com, jradloff@prudenteng.com, jstearns@didonato.cc, katherine@gvideosolutions.com, Khaliphb@gmail.com, Primevendor124@gmail.com, lriordan@playsitesplus.com, leon.higgins@mottmac.com, bids@crewfacilities.com, shumaker@shumakerengineering.com, strateinc@gmail.com, lyra@bidocean.biz, marie.battaglia@grantsforgrowth.com, mshea@harrisbeach.com, matt@mrjusa.com, maxbichler@gmail.com, mdemaranville@chacompanies.com, bidders@bg-p.com, guismwall@Hotmail.com, michele@fdstudios.com, nancy.kleppel@appleseedstrategy.com, ngmonroe@yahoo.com, Tronolone, Paul (ESD), reza.zoroufie@gmail.com, BUFFALOSCALE@YAHOO.COM, rfp@rfxanalyst.com, marketing@hraadvisors.com, sourcemgmt@onvia.net, stevewalse85@gmail.com, swik@northeasternappraisal.com, sscholz@wildplay.com, marketing@westat.com, nbybel@chazencompanies.com, tabatha.orr@stantec.com, tshayenterprise@gmail.com, tprohaska@buffnews.com, Townsend.Lewis@WSPgroup.com, ctcultural@gmail.com, vivanov@gomanyork.com, greenleeconsulting@gmail.com, Wayne@alpinetowers.com read more