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OCT 22 - OCT 29, 2015

Dyster's 72nd Street Debacle Turns $300,000 Problem into $1 Million Fiasco

By Mike Hudson

OCT 22, 2015

While Mayor Paul Dyster grows the fun downtown with some $707,000 in taxpayer subsidized concerts for Hard Rock Cafe, he could not find the $300,000 to fix 72nd St. when contractors told him the pipes would freeze.
Mayor Dyster will now spend more than $1 million to try to fix the water lines that freeze each year on 72nd St. This paper only hopes that this expenditure of more than three times the original cost will not inhibit the good mayor from spending money on really important things like the Blues Fest, Penguin Habitat, Holiday Markets, Beer Tasting at the NACC and of course more Hard Rock concerts.
A group of needy residents on 72nd St. had the audacity to place signs on their homes telling the world that they only have running water in the summer.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s intransigence in dealing with the frozen water main on 72nd Street that left hundreds of households without running water over the past two winters has finally managed to turn a $300,000 problem into one that will cost the taxpayers of Niagara Falls more than $1 million.

The Niagara Falls City Council approved a $965,000 contract with Yarussi Construction to tear up a recently paved section of the street and place the underlying water mains where every engineer who looked at the project said they should have been placed when the street was repaved back in 2010.

Dyster was told the pipes would freeze by his own city engineering department, by Paul Marinaccio, the head of Accadia Contracting, the company that did the original repaving job, and by Clark, Patterson, Lee, the outside contracting firm the mayor desperately hired in order to prove that he did nothing wrong.

When the contractor, Paul Marinaccio, President of Accadia Site Contracting, began the job, he realized that with changes of elevation in the street and by changing the cover around the 78 year-old water line - from packed soil to gravel, the old water lines which were not deep enough would freeze during cold winters.

They were between 18 inches to three feet below the new surface of the road in some locations.

Marinaccio told the city they should replace the water line.

He said he could do that work while the street was opened for around $300,000.

Dyster’s own engineering department agreed. The mayor made a halfhearted attempt to shake down the Water Board for the money, the Water board balked and Dyster swept the whole thing under the rug.

His luck held out for several relatively mild winters until February 2014, when the water main finally froze, as everyone told him it would in the first place.

The mayor acted as though he was surprised. He said there were “a half dozen theories” as to why the pipes froze. He commissioned a study.

Meanwhile, more than 200 families had no running water.

In the middle of a brutal winter.

The study he commissioned, at great expense from Clark, Patterson, Lee, served only to confirm what everyone already knew. That the water main had been improperly reinstalled after the 2010 repaving project. When Dyster read it, on April 9, 2014, Dyster put it in a desk drawer and hoped everyone would forget about it.

The Niagara Falls Reporter spoke with Anthony Mallone, the project engineer for Accadia.

"You need to redo the water line, re-cut the road,” Mallone said. “Install a new water line, and excavate it down to a depth below the freeze line."

Dyster continued to ignore the situation. He had concerts to host at the Hard Rock Café, beer to drink at the Niagara Arts and cultural Center and canoe launches to build on Hyde Park pond.

In the winter of 2015, the water main froze again.

Finally, after saying he wouldn’t, he put the whole project out for bid. Yarussi came in low at $965,000, which does not count the cost of consultant’s studies or actual engineering work. There will be change orders of course, and a problem Dyster could have taken care of in 2010 for $300,000 will now cost Niagara Falls taxpayers well over $1 million.

They say that people get the sort of elective representation they deserve. That axiom is no truer anywhere than it is in Niagara Falls, and no better representative of the city’s foolish pride and broken dreams could possibly be found than in Mayor Paul Dyster.






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