It’s taken long enough, almost ten years, but soon Mayor Dyster’s pride and joy Boundary Waters sculpture will be unveiled and subjected to a dedication ceremony, to take place at its seat of honor in the middle of the Rainbow Blvd. traffic roundabout.
It was supposed to have been finished back in 2009, the hundredth anniversary of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Canada, the same treaty that was flagrantly violated by New York State Parks a couple of years ago when they bulldozed makeshift earthen bridges over sections of the Niagara River in their quest to level and pave the Three Sisters Islands.
Then, the worst recession since the Great Depression came along, and this particular pet project of the mayor, who holds a PhD in International Law and Diplomacy and therefore viewed the strange painted steel contrivance as his sort of legacy for future generations, so that they can look at it and remember how erudite the scholar-mayor was, hip to the fact that his city bordered a foreign country, had to take a back seat to better things to spend taxpayers’ dollars on, which would be just about anything.
Originally budgeted at $435,000, including $50,000 funded by the city of Niagara Falls, the project was once again shelved when casino payments ceased for a while, to be resumed in mid-2013. After that, search for an artist who was gifted with talents at creating large 38′ by 35′ steel works of “public art” commenced in earnest.
As detailed in the Reporter, Mayor Dyster and the city of Niagara Falls, USA Niagara and the Niagara Greenway paid sculptor Jeff Laramore near twice the usual amount he received for creating similar masterpieces elsewhere in the country.
City Council was first presented a prototype in January of last year. By July, Niagara Falls Water Board engineers determined that the gigantic sculpture was too heavy for the water lines underneath the traffic circle. That necessitated going back to the Greenway for another $150,000 to remedy the situation, bringing the total cost up to $585,000. But it was OPM (Other Peoples’ Money), so as the kids say, it’s all good.
Of course, Mayor Dyster refused another work of public art when he said “no thanks” to the Tesla sculpture that the Niagara Falls City Council, the Niagara County Legislature and the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area board all passed unanimous resolutions to obtain from State Parks as a gift to the city. State Parks had even publicly announced that they were considering the idea and were willing to talk to the city about it.
All he had to do was put out his hand and that Nikola Tesla sculpture, assessed at over a half million dollars by our independent art expert, would be gracing downtown.
Instead, State Parks demolished the black granite, custom-made pedestal and pushed the statue out of the way, to an obscure corner of the park, lowering it so that tourists can further damage the gift from Europe commemorating the bicentennial of the United States of America.
Soon, the Boundary Waters sculpture will be dedicated, and grace the downtown traffic circle until one day, it too will be pushed out of the way, to an obscure corner of the city.
Only you can be sure nobody will be asking for it. Except maybe for scrap.