A number of Niagara Falls residents lit up social media this week with protests against Gov. Cuomo’s “lodge” which he wants to build next to the Niagara River on Goat Island in the Niagara Falls State Park, damaging the beautiful natural scenery surrounding Niagara Falls. We culled the following critical comments from Facebook, which outnumbered those in favor by at least 10 to 1.
Robert Borgatti: “This is a terrible idea. Just another unnecessary intrusion on the natural environment at the falls and totally contrary to the Olmsted vision that created the natural reserve (now referred to as a “park”). No more commercial enterprises inside the park, which yields little economic benefit to the community.”
It was a full house last Thursday at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion for Alan Roscetti’s kickoff fundraiser in his campaign for Niagara Falls City Court judge.
Roscetti, a 37-year-old Niagara County public defender and private practice attorney, is running for the seat currently held by Judge Robert Merino who will be retiring at the end of the year.
“It was a great night, just a terrific turnout,” said Roscetti after greeting more than 200 well wishers and supporters who turned out for the official start of his campaign and promising to work hard to convince voters he would be a fair and honest judge if he wins in November.
In the Tradition of the Old-time Pamphleteers, This is An Open Letter to the Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York
By E.R. Baxter III
Dear Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo,
In a recent public speech, you made several remarks about Goat Island at Niagara Falls. One remark had to do with building a “lodge” on Goat Island, “a world class lodge with sweeping views of the Niagara River,” and you furthermore said that an RFP has already been issued to “build greater outdoor activities on Goat Island that will boost tourism and give people an international destination to visit.” Your radical action compels the asking of questions, but before I ask them, please bear with me for the following News Flash: Niagara Falls is already “an international destination,” and has been so for over two centuries.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo rode into Niagara Falls this week full of promises about using state funds from his Buffalo Billion Squared Initiative in his proposed 2017 budget to reclaim underused and vacant property near the state park, an investment he says that will pay dividends for the city.
While it may sound great, the federal corruption probe into his first Buffalo Billion investment has many legislators taking a second look at phase two. There’s no guarantee state lawmakers will give Cuomo everything he’s looking for this time, and even he admits his plan has only a 50-50 chance of success.
A Roman Catholic priest who is proposing to locate what he terms a “not-for-profit restaurant,” run by volunteers, serving low cost meals to low income residents and free meals to veterans, is running into stiff resistance from Mayor Dyster and a self-appointed business group that calls itself Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project (PARP).
Since the 1701 Pine Avenue location, upstairs from the popular Carmine’s Restaurant, is zoned for such a purpose, in the final analysis, if the good Father decides to follow through with it, there’s little those entities can do to prevent what’s been termed a new soup kitchen from being established at that location.
by Dan Davis
They stopped talking to me so maybe they would answer to you.
This year’s budget included a request for $500,899 in Casino funds for Community Development. This amount was to come from a $10.9 million “Transfer from Tribal Revenue.” At the same time, an additional $500,899 was (for some unknown reason) added to the tax levy for the same request.The budget hawks got a hold of this and reduced the amount of the Property Tax Revenue for Community Development to $300,899 (They never touched the $10.99 Million where it was supposed to have came from).
So, $300,899 remained to be covered by Property Tax.
After the budget was adopted, they seem to have realized they made a mistake and printed a revision to the Property Tax levy. In that revision they moved $300,899 to the “Other” column and THEN MYSTERIOUSLY added it back in to keep the levy the same.
They have STILL not touched the $10.9 Million in Tribal Funds – which should have also been reduced by $200,000 to reflect the cut in funds going to Community Development!
The Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center’s marquee event, the Premier, was a star-studded success last Saturday night at the Seneca Niagara Casino, attracting close to 1,000 people who clearly had a wonderful time contributing and mingling with some of the area’s biggest names as well as many guests from the everyday world.
Ch. 2 news anchor Maryalice Demler once again served as emcee and she kept things moving quite nicely after the guests had enjoyed a superb dinner, introducing Memorial President and CEO Joseph Ruffolo who outlined the major advancements at the Medical Center, including the opening in 2016 of the new Golisano Center for Community Health, the result of the $3.5 million lead gift from former Sabres owner Tom Golisano.
That’s what people were saying this week after Councilman Charles Walker – who is still dealing with four misdemeanor charges brought by the state attorney general for allegedly failing to file campaign finance reports – was elected to either his third or fourth two-year term as chairman of the City Council.
Walker says he’s not sure how many times he’s been elected chairman, but it is probably fair to say this is the first time he’s been handed the gavel while facing misdemeanor criminal charges, which will likely be settled shortly in some kind of deal negotiated by his attorney, Robert Restaino.
“(I)t is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
When I accepted the position of Purchasing Agent with the city of Niagara Falls in the summer of 2015, it was with the idea that there are more ways to help the city than being in elected office. True, it wasn’t the position I originally interviewed for, but it was an important position nevertheless. I accomplished a lot in the first six months with the bare bones, but experienced staff.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster won a third term in 2015, but barely. Dyster, who had been harshly criticized by former Council President Glenn Choolokian on his handling of city finances and the secretive Hamister hotel project among other development broken promises, defeated Choolokian by a mere 64 votes in the Democratic primary and garnered only 49 percent of the vote in the general election, defeating Republican John Accardo who received 39 percent of the vote. But Dyster may not have won a third term without Choolokian’s help, the primary opponent who had been one of his strongest critics.
(Editor’s note: Lou Ricciuti has spent decades studying and evaluating the history of the nuclear industry in Niagara Falls in the mid 20th century and its lingering aftereffects. Dubbed “Nuclear Lou” by admirers and critics alike, Ricciuti has been a voice in the wilderness for years. His warnings recently have been heeded with greater concern as long sealed evidence continues to emerge about the massive refining of radioactive material that occurred in this city has come to light.)
“The citizens of Niagara Falls would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for a seat on the City Court bench than Alan Roscetti,” says longtime pharmacist Robert Kendzia when asked about the young man’s plans to run for an expected open seat next year on City Court.
We caught up with Kendzia and several other folks at the Bowl-O-Drome on Pine Ave. this week to ask them about Alan J. Roscetti, who is announcing his candidacy for City Court in 2017 to fill the seat of Robert Merino, who will reach the mandatory retirement age for judges.
“They don’t come much better [than Alan],” said Angelo Tecchio, a retired airline manager. “He’s a fine young man, hails from a terrific family, and would certainly be an asset to the citizens of Niagara Falls as a judge. I would support him wholeheartedly.”
Roscetti, 37, has worked in the Niagara County Public Defender’s Office for nearly 13 years where he has handled every type of case imaginable including murders, arsons, large-scale grand larceny, and fraud. When we interviewed him for this story on Wednesday, he had just won a jury trial for a defendant who he argued had been wrongly accused of menacing a police officer and criminal possession of a weapon as well as obstructing governmental administration. The jury agreed with Roscetti after only 10 minutes of deliberation and returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts.
“I believe in what I do, and as a public defender and an attorney in my family’s law firm, I am living my boyhood dream,” said Roscetti. He remembers when he was a fifth grader at Sacred Heart Villa in Lewiston and someone took a picture of him holding a law book. It was an early sign that this young man was headed for the legal career that now sees him setting his sights on a City Court judgeship.
“In many of the cases I handle as a public defender, there are mental health issues involved,” said Roscetti, “and in many cases the problems can be diagnosed and the issues resolved in a fair and just way. You have to be able to adjust to the situation and act accordingly. As a judge, it would require the same ability to handle each case firmly but fairly and apply the right legal standards for all involved. That’s what I would do.”
Roscetti says he feels he has the “right temperament, right experience, and right energy to serve the citizens of Niagara Falls” as a judge, and run a fair, honest, punctual court that would best serve all citizens.
While he was raised by his parents in Lewiston, he has lived on 28th St. in Niagara Falls in the home his grandfather built 60 years ago since graduating from the University of Buffalo Law School 13 years ago. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Duke University (economics, sociology), just the opposite collegiate path of his father, James, who was graduated from the University of Buffalo before earning his law degree at Duke. Like father, like son, almost.
James Roscetti is a partner in the Roscetti & DeCastro law firm and has been chairman of the board of the Memorial Medical Center since 2009. He will be honored next month at Memorial’s annual Premier dinner gala when he will receive the Nancy Gara Spirit Award presented in memory of a Western New York banking executive and former medical center board member who was renowned for her positive attitude and personal commitment to serving the community. Roscetti is also a former Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority commissioner and has held and currently holds numerous other positions in the community.
“I’m so grateful to my father for what he has accomplished and how he’s helped make me the kind of lawyer that I can be proud of,” said Alan. “I’ve learned so much from him, and perhaps most important of all, kindness.”
“He (Alan) lives here in Niagara Falls and the family has a great history of commitment to the community,” said Niagara Falls Republican City Chairman Bill Carroll. Carroll said his committee would meet with all candidates expressing an interest in the expected City Court vacancy–Alan makes three–and would probably not make an endorsement until after next year’s primary.
Michael Gawel, vice chairman of the GOP city committee, said, “I think Alan would make a great candidate and a great judge. I am behind him 100 percent. The Roscetti family has a long history of service to Niagara Falls and Alan has the experience and the temperament to serve on the bench.”
Nick Vilardo, a member of the Niagara Falls City School Board and a retired fire fighter, echoed the sentiments of many folks we talked to about Alan Roscetti’s bid for City Court:
“He’s a wonderful young man, comes from one of the best families in this community, and has the right mix of youth and experience to do the job and serve our citizens firmly but fairly. I wish him all the success in the world. If he wins, we all win.”
Alan has a three-year-old son, Alex, the pride and joy of his mother (Paula) and father, and a sister Maria (Scott) Hamilton who lives on Cayuga Island.
Alan has sent introductory letters to all local party leaders, major and minor, expressing his interest in meeting with them in person to discuss his candidacy. He is admitted to practice in all local, state, and federal courts in Western New York.
The entire family and a boatload of friends and supporters are expected to help formally launch his campaign on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion.
“I’m ready for the next step in my career and I’m prepared to work the neighborhoods to let people know that I want the honor of serving them on the City Court bench,” said Roscetti. “I know it will be difficult and there will be others seeking the same seat, but I am ready for the challenge and look forward to meeting and talking to people so they can judge me first-hand. Now is the time, and I’m ready.”