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AUGUST 19 - AUGUST 27, 2014

Council Funds Concert, Repaves Own Parking Lot With Your Money

August 19, 2014

City Hall parking lot in need of paving

The Niagara Falls City Council spent around a half a million dollars of your money last week and it will benefit you about not at all. A bit of it they gave to a concert promoter who said he didn't need it and the bulk went to repaving the lot where they park their cars.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster originally requested $40,000 for the Niagara Falls Blues Festival, but Councilman Andrew Touma joined his colleagues Glenn Choolokian and Bob Anderson in opposing the measure.

Toby Rotella, the festival's founder, has said publicly that while he would appreciate the help, he could run the festival without it. In recent years, and in particularly during the dispute between the state of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians when casino funds were not forthcoming, Rotella staged the event successfully with no public underwriting.

City Councilman Glenn Choolokian noted this in voting against donating even the $10,000.

"The last couple of years we didn't fund them and they were still successful," Choolokian said.

Prior to moving to give the festival the $40,000, Dyster moved to give the money to the Hard Rock Café so that the billion dollar multinational corporation could stage a public concert in Niagara Falls.

The general practice for promoters seeking to stage "free" outdoor events is for them to pay the municipality for the privilege. Not so in Dyster's Niagara Falls, where untold hundreds of thousands have been squandered on second rate rock acts lucky enough to land the gig.

But $10,000 is just $10,000, after all. The big winner at last week's City Council meeting was Yarussi Construction, that was awarded a $468,720 contract to repave the City Hall parking lot.

The lot is only about an acre in size, and observers were left to wonder whether it would be paved in gold or some other valuable material at that price.

Specifications were not available at press time, but Yarussi was also awarded a $1.5 million contract to repave 10 streets in the LaSalle neighborhood, bringing the largess bestowed on them by the Council to nearly $2 million.

Dyster and his Council apparently have money to burn, and staging music concerts while repaving their own parking lot seems as good a way as any to spend it.





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