Election time, you think?
Mayor Paul Dyster, who repeatedly ignored the warnings of engineers and contractors who told him that water mains on 72nd Street would freeze in the winter after a street resurfacing project there, and then hid engineering reports that said water main freezes during the past two winters were due to the botched resurfacing project, finally had crews on the scene earlier this week, with the election just days away.
More than 200 households were without running water early in 2014 and again this year because the mayor refused to spend the extra $300,000 he was told it would cost to address the water main problem.
His neglect will now cost Niagara Falls taxpayers more than $1 million.
After saying that he might not get around to addressing the problem until next year, Dyster announced that a contract would be let a week before the primary election is September.
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.
Anthony Mallone, who had been the project engineer for Accadia on the repaving project, told the Niagara Falls Reporter in an exclusive interview that the cause of the problem was as plain as the red nose on Dyster’s face.
"You need to redo the water line, re-cut the road (and) install a new water line, and excavate it down to a depth below the freeze line," he said.
Clark Patterson Lee did a study at the mayor’s request and the taxpayer’s expense in April of last year.
"We reviewed plans dated 2010 and spoke with members of the (city) Engineering Department to obtain information regarding this full depth roadway reconstruction project,” the report stated. "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. 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…”
The mayor hid the report in a drawer for eight months and it took a Freedom of Information Law request from the Buffalo News to get him to give it up. After more than a year of him saying the water problem had nothing to do with the project, his own consultants told the truth.
Then, after unsuccessfully trying to blame the city Water Board for the fiasco, Dyster announced he would fix the problem three weeks before the primary.
“Complex issues without apparent solutions are the responsibility of the mayor, regardless of jurisdictions,” he said without a trace of irony. “We collected information, set forth a plan of action and will execute a solution during this construction season. The political response would have been a winter of finger pointing. Instead, we are focused on resolving this problem on behalf of our residents.”
He actually said his decision to do the right thing after two years of doing the wrong thing was not politically motivated. If he is reelected, it will mean that people believed him, all evidence to the contrary.