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NOV 25 - DEC 03, 2014

Cynical Ploy Links Jayne Park Work to Beloved City Resident

By Anna M. Howard

November 25, 2014

The marks humans leave are too often scars. And the over-large soon-to-be- asphalt path in the previously all-green Jayne Park is no exception.

Just when we thought we had seen all that Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and his senior planner Thomas DeSantis had to offer with regard to cynicism and non-transparency related to their Jayne Park "improvement" plan, the two men surprised us again.

On Monday, Nov. 10, the mayor and his planner had the city council approve a resolution naming the “handicap accessible” Jayne Park walking path after beloved city resident John J. Maroon, champion of the disabled and handicapped, who passed away May 7 this year, at the age of 88.

This while other city parks - many of which are much more visited than quiet Jayne Park - have no such handicap accessible paths, and, indeed, city hall itself remains largely inhospitable to visitors in wheelchairs who have to enter city hall through the basement.

Born in Niagara Falls in 1925, Maroon, a veteran of World War II, was a shining star in the local volunteer community. He worked with the disabled, especially children. For decades he was a fixture at the local bowling alleys as he took disabled youngsters to the lanes for exercise and socialization.

No publicity hound and never one to do anything for private adulation, Maroon was a kind-hearted soul who loved people.

Perhaps he was more attuned to the anguish of others and physical challenges due to his having suffered through internment as a prisoner of war during World War II.

In fact Maroon was the last surviving WWII P.O.W. from Western New York.

Private First Class John J. Maroon joined the U.S. Army in Nov. 1943 at the age of 18. After being assigned to the 36th Infantry “Arrowhead” Division, Private Maroon fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino, and the capture and the liberation of Rome. On Aug. , 1944, Private Maroon took part in the Operation Dragoon assault landing at Saint-Raphaël.

In November 1944, he was captured during heavy fighting as the 36th Infantry Division advanced into the mountains. He and 12 other survivors were taken to Germany’s Stalag 7A prisoner of war camp in Mooseburg, Bavaria. He was later freed by advancing American forces.

Maroon’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the POW Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three campaign stars and bronze arrowhead device, the World War II Victory Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Marksman Badge with rifle bar, and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.

And now he has a path named after him in Jayne Park, a path which no one wanted, a one mile long, eight feet wide asphalt path - through the previously all-green park. Dyster and DeSantis moved to forever link his name to the scandalous work being done at Jayne Park on Cayuga Island.

What an unhappy connection.

Forget the fact this broke city-- whose mayor proposes to raise taxes on its people by 4.5 percent this year - can’t afford the work, or the maintenance once the work is complete, Dyster and DeSantis pushed their “plan” through for reasons incomprehensible to standard logic.

No one asked for this path. No one wants it.

Except, that is, the design consultants and the contractor who is doing the work.

By attaching the honorable name of John J. Maroon to this unnecessary “project,” perhaps the two city hall operators, Dyster and DeSantis, hoped to make their costly and controversial project bulletproof from scrutiny and criticism.

They are going to give Maroon a plaque on a project that the neighbors don’t want in their quiet neighborhood park. This is how they honor the man!

Now the path has been cut - like a great giant scar on the once-pristine park. The gravel and plastic has been laid, buried in the earth, displacing an acre of rich dark topsoil and green, living, growing grass. Now the John J. Maroon walking path only needs asphalt to top it, and a plaque.

It is a hell of a path; this “handicap accessible” John J, Maroon Path, which comes far too close to the existing playground, making it potentially dangerous for collisions with bicyclists and a child stepping away from the playground suddenly, and the path is sure to suffer degrading after a couple of winters, along the Little River, as the water freezes and thaws and rises and falls causing it to look like hell in a matter of no time at all.

But Dyster and DeSantis chose their new Jayne Park path to hang John Maroon’s name on.

We have a better idea.

Take the Jayne Park cash and use it to make the large, central and city wide-used Hyde Park completely handicap accessible in the name of John Maroon.

That would be a sincere move to benefit the entire city while keeping John’s memory alive for decades to come.

Indeed, if the city really wanted to honor Maroon - instead of using his name to deflect criticism--they could have found a more visible, more utilized and less controversial handicapped trail to put his plaque next to.

Mayor Paul Dyster named an unwanted asphalt path in Jayne Park after beloved, local
WW II hero John J. Maroon (above) (1925-2014).






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