In a completely bizarre turn of events, city Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti took to her Facebook page last week to announce that Mayor Paul Dyster’s proposed Niagara Falls cricket field wouldn’t be located at Hyde Park after all, but on 61st Street.
The cricket field has been the talk of the town since the middle of May, when Dyster told Babe Ruth Little League President Jeff Cafarella that room would have to be made to accommodate the cricket field at Hyde Park.
Cafarella became concerned since a cricket field is as big as two baseball diamonds, and all of the baseball diamonds at Hyde Park are in use by youth baseball.
Specifically, Cafarella recalled, Dyster said the league “may have to make room for” a cricket field.
The Babe Ruth Little League has been a Niagara Falls institution for more than a half century, and it is safe to assume that no one born and/or raised in the city has ever seen a cricket match, knows the rules of cricket or cares about cricket in any way.
After Dyster’s plans were made public in an investigative article in the Niagara Falls Reporter, public outrage exploded on internet discussion forums and radio talk shows.
Dyster was forced to backpedal, publishing a wordy op-ed piece in the Niagara Gazette stating that the whole mess was just a big misunderstanding, gamed by his political adversaries here in an attempt to make him look bad. He never meant to suggest that any baseball diamonds be sacrificed for cricket play at Hyde Park, he claimed.
The untapped treasure trove of campaign contributions that might be gleaned from the wealthy immigrant Indian community backing the newly created cricket league clearly had nothing to do with anything, was the inference.
Now it seems as though Dyster wishes the whole thing would just go away. Allowing Grandinetti – whose Facebook postings have landed her in hot water in the past – to break the news in a terse statement.
“Excited that there will be a cricket field on 61st Street that will not displace any other activities,” she wrote. “Something new, positive & different for NF. More movement in the right direction.
Niagara Falls resident Keith Parmer wasn’t buying it.
“I'm sure it was easy to find space on 61st street in the first place,” Parmer commented.
In the original Reporter article on the cricket issue, Acting Public Works Director John Caso mentioned 61stStreet as a possible site, but was clearly focused on Hyde Park as the preferred location for cricket play. Cricket league representatives also confirmed that Hyde Park was the site discussed with Dyster.
There are currently no basketball courts at Hyde Park, nor a field on which to play the most popular sport in the world and the fastest growing in the USA – soccer. Dyster’s attempt to throw youth baseball here under the bus in an election year ploy aimed at drumming up more campaign contributions is nothing if not characteristic of his political philosophy since the day he took office.