Over the weekend, a number of 72nd Street homeowners put up "For Sale" signs in front of their houses. The signs come complete with an advisory that reads "Water Seasonal."
While it provokes a smirk or a laugh for some, for these protesting homeowners, who went a large part of two winters in a row without running water after their pipes froze, it is no laughing matter.
What they and the general public may not know is that the second year of freezing pipes was completely avoidable and, but for a cover up by City Hall, the 72nd residents would have known the cause of the problem - and could have protested and sought solutions - almost 10 months in advance of their second winter of freezing pipes.
A report from Clark Patterson Lee Design Professionals dated April 9, 2014 about water main conditions of 72nd Street in LaSalle proves conclusively that Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster knew full well what the problem was, even as he denied it to the media, the city Council and residents left without running water for weeks on end.
"We discovered that the frozen services on 72nd Street were located in areas where the water facilities are above normal recommended installation depths within recently reconstructed areas," the report states unequivocally. "In addition we were told that the Engineering Department coordinated with the Niagara Falls Water Board, who was aware of the water main depths in this area; In particular, we learned that the Niagara Falls Water Board opted against the Engineering Department's recommendation to replace the existing water facilities at recommended depths where road reconstruction would occur…" Clearly then, Dyster knew in April of 2014 that his road reconstruction project of 2010, and the Water Board's penny pinching decision not to replace the water main there despite urging from both the contractor and the city Engineering Department, was directly responsible for the interruption of service during winter of the 2014.
What did he do about it? Absolutely nothing. He hid the Clark Patterson Lee report in a desk drawer and hoped everybody would just forget about it. Asked months later about the report, he said that it had been inconclusive about what caused the freeze. He lied, in other words.
Then came the winter of 2015, and another cold snap, and 10 months after when he first learned of the poor decision making that led to the freezing debacle of 2014, once again, residents were left without water service. Mayor Paul Dyster, who manages to find money for rock concerts, penguin habitats, cricket fields and canoe launches, cries poor when it comes to providing a public service as vital as running water for taxpaying home owners in the city of Niagara Falls.
Last week, Water Board spokesman Brian Gould confirmed that board representatives are in the process of finalizing a contract with an independent, private contractor that will be performing investigatory work on 72nd Street. The study, if it's honest – and that's not saying it will be – will do little more than back up the conclusions reached by Clark Patterson Lee more than a year ago at Dyster's behest.
Another study, more consultants brought in from Buffalo to take more money from those unfortunate enough to live and pay taxes in Dyster's Niagara Falls. The election will be over by the time the winter of 2016 arrives, and perhaps this new report will find space in the same desk drawer where the Clark Patterson Lee report was hidden.