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City website silent on state of the city, waxes eloquent on Easter Egg Hunt

March 2, 2016 Mike Hudson 56

Doing a story on Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s 2016 State of the City speech is one thing. Sitting through it is quite another.

For one thing, it involves sitting in a room with Dyster and listening to him. He is notorious for his ability to go one and on about the minutiae of city government in a voice that guarantees he will not follow his predecessor – former mayor Vince Anello – into a career in radio when and if he ever leaves office.

For another, his nose fails to grow like Pinocchio’s as he distorts the truth, spins yarns and pollutes the air with outright whoppers. This is the third year in a row, for example, that he’s talked about the imminent groundbreaking on Rainbow Boulevard for his friend Mark Hamister’s imaginary hotel. read more

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Woman who allegedly stabbed baby daddy surrenders, is charged with second degree murder

February 25, 2016 46

The Niagara Falls Reporter received two communications from the Niagara Falls Police Department this week. The first came on Feb. 23. it read:

At 10:00 p.m. last night Niagara Falls Police Officers responded to 9 Monteagle Ridge for a reported assault. Upon arriving they found 39 year old Antoine Mallory bleeding from a single stab wound to the upper right chest. Mr. Mallory was taken to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center where he succumbed to his injury. This case is being investigated as a domestic violence matter. The suspect and victim have two children in common. read more

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SolarCity sings financial blues, while City bought Highland Ave. Property based on SolarCity Spinoff

February 25, 2016 61

 The company at the center of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” initiative and the stated reason Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and city Planner Tom DeSantis spent $165,000 of taxpayers’ money on a largely worthless piece of property on Highland Avenue is in serious financial difficulty, and analysts say that the long term prospects of SolarCity – the nation’s largest producer of solar panels – are bleak.

The company’s fourth quarter report, released earlier this month, showed a total loss of $710 million for 2015. read more

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Lack of communication problem for city Council, Tompkins says

February 25, 2016 Mike Hudson 51

Freshman City Councilman Kenny Tompkins says his first two months on the job have been something of an education. Coming from a long background in private business, he says the lack of communication between Council members has come as a bit of a surprise.

“I’ve been disappointed in a few things,” he told the Niagara Falls Reporter. “Some of my colleagues are great, and some of them won’t return a phone call.”

Tompkins ran his campaign last year on the proposition that the city is a business, and should be run like one. read more

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Now that the casino cash has flown the coop the chickens are coming home to roost

February 25, 2016 Anna Howard 161

And so it begins. As the reality of the city debt and deficit sinks in – combined with the fact that the casino revenue is currently exhausted and dwindling for the coming years – city hall is frantically searching for ways to stem the tide of rapidly rising red ink.

Parking meters that will cost more to administer than return in profit are on Mayor Paul Dyster’s drawing board for an installation by Memorial Day. The parking plan cost over $100,000 and the bare minimum installation charge for the first wave of meters will cost at least $350,00. To this you can add the stipends, overtime, equipment, pay raises and the Dyster-Touma parking initiative is a guaranteed money loser. read more

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State Parks Plan to Rebuild Bridges to Goat Island; say they will follow environmental regulations [for a change]

February 24, 2016 James Hufnagel 80
An October, 2015 Design Report/Environmental Assessment document jointly issued by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and the New York State Dept. of Transportation (NYSDOT) outlines the steps the two agencies will take to obtain the myriad regulatory approvals necessary to move forward with the construction of two new bridges in the Niagara Falls State Park.  

Steps that State Parks has deliberately, repeatedly and illegally ignored in its pursuit of massive projects it has undertaken here recently, in violation of state and federal law and international treaty obligations. read more

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Mayor’s parking plan stalls as key questions go unanswered at council meeting

February 24, 2016 Anna Howard 75

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster had hoped to push through his parking meter installation plan at the February 22 council meeting, but an unusually vocal group of residents pummeled the council and mayor with questions regarding operating costs of the parking plan. As a result the plan was voted down, 4-1, with councilwoman Grandinetti being the lone yes vote.

Both the [Mayors Irene] Elia and [Vince] Anello administrations installed parking meters in the downtown and both of those plans ultimately, for different reasons, failed. Will parking meters operate more successfully under the Dyster administration than they did under the Elia and Anello administrations? Until the rowdy February 22 council meeting, the mayor had planned to have the first wave of meters installed downtown by Memorial Day. Unless Dyster can secure council approval for his parking plan at the next council meeting his Memorial Day installation target date is sure to get pushed back if not cancelled. read more

Garbage tote arson latest chapter In long running comedy sketch

February 24, 2016 Mike Hudson 50

Niagara Falls – A series of arson fires targeting city-owned garbage totes has become a serious enough concern that both Fire Chief Thomas Colangelo and Police Chief Bryan Dal Porto have asked for the public’s help in identifying the culprits.

In the meantime, Colangelo warned, garbage totes should be kept away from the sides of homes and fences and instead placed in the rear or middle of yards. He also advised that totes not be left unattended outside of garbage pick-up times.

This past weekend, two fires spread from burning totes to ignite nearby residences. A fire in the 2400 block of Whitney Avenue Sunday spread inside a home and set it aflame, climbing an outside wall and through a broken window. Five people escaped with their lives. read more

Studies agree methadone maintenance bad for addicts, bad for communities

February 24, 2016 Mike Hudson 62

Niagara Falls – Assurances by promoters of two proposed methadone clinics here will be beneficial both to recovering heroin addicts and the community as a whole flies in the face of a pair of recent studies that agree that replacing heroin with the even more highly addictive drug methadone benefits no one except the big pharmaceutical companies and clinic operators.

Northpointe Council Inc., a not for profit organization with an operational budget of around $4 million a year, wants to provide more than 200 addicts from Erie and Niagara counties with methadone at the former school district offices at Walnut Avenue and Sixth Street. read more

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Cuomo losing interest in City of Niagara Falls? Projects stalled,Progress at a Standstill

February 17, 2016 James Hufnagel 62
  Over the past two years Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised tens of millions of dollars of economic aid for the city of Niagara Falls. So far, the city has received none of it. Not only that, but after having been a regular visitor here, it now appears the governor is distancing himself from involvement with the city and its political establishment.   On August 8, 2014 at a press conference in the Niagara Falls State Park, Gov. Cuomo announced that Uniland Development Co. had been selected to construct “Wonder Falls” at the site of the long-defunct Rainbow Centre Mall.  
Whatever happened to Wonderfalls?
According to an article in the Buffalo News, “The project is… expected to transform downtown Niagara Falls and be a catalyst for visitors to lengthen their stay by offering 300 hotel rooms, themed restaurants, a spa, an indoor water park and a “daredevil adventure center” that will bear the name of famed wire walker Nik Wallenda.”   The $150 million Wonder Falls resort was to have been heavily subsidized by a portion of the “Buffalo Billion”, the centerpiece of Cuomo’s economic development strategy for Western New York. The design phase of Wonder Falls was estimated to be 18 months.  

Coumo’s Wonder Falls announcement was on August 8, 2014. That was 18 months and one week ago. And all a Google News search  read more

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DiCienzo suit rekindles criticism of Percy, NTCC

February 17, 2016 Mike Hudson 40
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Michael DiCienzo wants to ensure that he and other hoteliers in this city are getting their money’s worth from the NTCC.

The city bed tax is being collected “erroneously, illegally and/or unconstitutionally” according to the Article 78 action brought against the city by the DiCienzo family and their company, NFNY Hotel Management.

The suit, filed on the DiCienzo’s behalf by local attorney John Bartolomei in Niagara County Supreme Court, seeks the return of $285,808 collected by the city between June 30 and Sept. 30, 2015 from the Sheraton at the Falls and the Days Inn at the Falls.

On Dec. 15, 2015, the company formally asked city Controller Maria Brown for a refund of the tax money, which is charged to guests at the hotels. Brown refused the request on January 5, the suit states. read more

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Seneca Spin Off? We don’t need no stinking spin off!

February 17, 2016 50
a3a This commercial building at 1389 Niagara St. once housed shops on the first floor and nice little apartments upstairs. It has been derelict for years and is representative of the spinoff resulting from the opening of the Seneca Niagara Casino, almost directly across the street. a2 While there are no “nice” blacks on Niagara Street across the street from the Seneca Niagara Casino property, the 1300 block looks particularly bleak. Plywood covered storefronts and broken upper windows are par for the course and, in many of these shells, the last of the copper plumbing was stolen years ago. a1 Spinoff? We don’t need no stinking spinoff! When the Seneca Niagara Casino opened in 2001, Niagara Falls residents were promised a rebirth of the South End neighborhood surrounding it. Fifteen years later, what people have witnessed was a stillbirth instead. spin offcolor In addition to the unprecedented revival of business along Niagara Street, Seneca Niagara Casino employees were to have moved into the adjoining residential areas in droves, transforming the neighborhood. 4a4 This once stately Victorian residence at 462 Fourth Street — walking distance from the casino in even the worst weather — stands as an example of how well that idea panned out. 3a3 Had rosy predictions proven correct, structures like this apartment building at 511 Fourth Street would have been rehabbed and provided a home for employees of the Seneca Niagara Casino. The predictions weren’t even close. 2a2 Some structures are just too far gone, and those — like this old Fourth Street house, might have been torn down to make room for a cozy bungalow. It stands today, abandoned and derelict, just waiting for someone to hide a dead body in it. 1a1 “Zombie” houses like this one at 529 Fourth Street pride ample proof of the failure of vision that surrounded the city’s embrace of the Seneca Niagara Casino.