|Tearing up Jayne Park to make an oversized asphalt walking path and an overlook that destroys the privacy of the park and neighbors across the park, begs the question: Why?
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s bulldozers that the Reporter had warned Cayuga Island residents about for the past six years showed up in Jayne Park, the historic and bucolic slip of green on the northern tip of Cayuga Island, on Nov. 3.
Private contractors arrived on site and began cutting down trees. Most of the trees removed appeared to be dead ones along the northern shore, although smaller living trees were taken down along with shoreline growth.
That bulldozer was joined by a bobcat, tandem dump trucks, a soil-stripping machine, and other heavy equipment that are leaving wheel marks, ruts and a damaged park in their wake. That damage will require landscape repair. It may also demand additional and amended contractual work, at added cost, in the spring of 2015.
By the end of the work week last Friday (Nov. 7), the crews had cut an approximately one mile long, eight foot wide “walking path” that enters from the western end of Joliet Avenue and runs the northern shore before snaking south toward the play area where it exits on Joliet Avenue.
The path was layered with a black plastic vapor barrier, covered with stone and now awaits the asphalt topping that will forever change the face and nature of historic Jayne Park as approximately 42,000
square feet of park green will be buried beneath that asphalt.
Dyster issued a letter to the Cayuga Island residents on August 11, 2011 as he ran for re-election. A look at that letter and a look at the work being done in the park prove Dyster to be what the Reporter tagged him as being in spring of 2009 when he, and his planner Tom DeSantis, unveiled his Jayne Park plan.
The Dyster 2011 letter opens as follows:
“Dear Cayuga Island Resident,
Jayne Park will never be the same. Neither will Cayuga Island.
With those words, the Niagara Falls Reporter recently tried to scare you into thinking that my administration is out to take Jayne Park from you. As usual, The Niagara Falls Reporter is not telling the truth.”
The Dyster letter goes on to deny planning a canoe launch (which is not actually a truthful statement because the original plans always called for a canoe launch).
The letter also denies planning a parking lot (Yet the original plans always called for a parking lot).
The mayor wrapped up his campaign missive with:
"We’re committed to keeping the park as a quiet, green and scenic space…as long as I am mayor, Jayne Park will be the same…beautiful and strong. That’s my commitment to you."
Has the mayor kept his promise?
For the past six years he has unrelentingly, in the face of neighborhood opposition, insisted on his “Jayne Park Plan.”
He has done so as Cayuga Island residents delivered a petition against his park plan, a petition bearing more than 300 names. Time and again at public meetings the residents asked for his plan to be scrapped and replaced with a simple grass cutting and park maintenance plan.
Residents are now venting, sincerely, if impotently, their genuine frustration and disgust with the Dyster and DeSantis Jayne Park plan on the Cayuga Island Facebook page about the work now going on there:
Timothy Atkinson wrote on Nov. 6 “Absolutely disgusting. What’s next a petting zoo?”
“This is breaking my heart. Just absolutely breaking my heart,” wrote Kathleen Hogan Hall on Nov. 6.
Christine DeDario-Burridge on the same day wrote “I could drive my car on this so-called walking path…I am so sorry to see this happen…such a shame.”
On Nov. 4Paula Placek sarcastically posted “As of this morning I could stand in Jayne Park and watch the traffic on the expressway across the river behind River Road. What a beautiful view!!!”
On Nov. 4 and 5 three residents essentially summed Dyster and DeSantis’ actions posting:
“It’s a poor idea. They can’t even keep the park maintained now. In two years the path will need maintenance, then what?” David Kelly.
“What a waste of money,” Mary Jane Mauro.
“Their minds were made up like everything else they do,” Tina Cosentino Flynn.
The Reporter tried to warn the Cayuga Island residents.
In the face of constant criticism as to our “negativity” we pressed on, pointing out the truthfulness of our findings and noting to the appalling lack of need to "improve" Jayne Park, calling it a waste of money, if not a calculated plan to expand the park from a neighborhood park to a regional attraction.
Now, the residents have no choice but to accept and live with the environmental rape of Jayne Park.
It didn’t have to end like this.