Dyster’s position on Cuomo’s lodge assures Placement in Pantheon of Great Leaders 


It must be fun to use taxpayers’ money to use the Niagara Falls State Park as piggy bank for campaign donors.

Gov. Cuomo’s proposed “lodge” on Goat Island in the Niagara Falls State Park has been met with swift, unequivocal and forceful public opposition since he announced his intentions during a January speech at the University of Buffalo. Earlier this week the Niagara Falls City Council passed a resolution opposing the project. On the same evening, twenty miles away at Lockport, Niagara County legislators tabled a similar resolution pending clarification by the governor’s staff, a resolution that would have passed with flying colors had it come to a vote.

The social media backlash against Cuomo’s hotel on the famed landscape that is supposed to resemble, or at least show some degree of deference to, Olmsted’s design for a natural preserve framing the Falls of Niagara, was fierce. If Facebook is any indication, the vast majority of local residents are severely critical of the idea, for different reasons, including but not limited to further commercialization of the park at the expense of downtown businesses, and the direct competition that a new, tax-exempt, Delaware North-run lodge on state property would present to the profusion of hotels that have been built on Rainbow Blvd. and elsewhere in the city over the past couple of years.


Goat Island was reserved by the New York State Legislature to be a parkland and the original design was planned by Frederick Law Olmsted. It did not include a lodge.

Goat Island was reserved by the New York State Legislature to be a parkland and the original design was planned by Frederick Law Olmsted. Gov. Cuomo wants a lodge built. Mayor Dyster has not made his position clear.

Adding to the clamor against the intrusive Goat Island lodge, a group of influential preservationists, including Tom and Louise Yots, Paul Gromosiak, Bob Baxter, Robert Borgatti and others published an open letter public to Gov. Cuomo, imploring him to consider alternative sites, such as Schoellkopf Hall in DeVeaux Woods State Park, for his lodge. Niagara Falls-based filmmaker Ken Cosentino ramped up his productions, creating a series of short features highlighting the issue, and activists Mark Diodate and Chris Borgatti of Rise Niagara are leading that local grass-roots organization’s push against the ill-conceived development. Editorials and Letters to the Editor in both dailies, the Buffalo News and the Niagara Gazette, have all come out against the proposed hotel.

It seems the only person in all of Western New York who couldn’t immediately wrap his mind around the folly of Cuomo’s lodge in the state park was Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, who told a Channel 2 News reporter on Feb. 2 that he is “watching the situation closely” and “if a tourist hotel on Goat Island does come to pass he would be concerned that at least it match or try to match in design its natural surroundings.”


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He takes orders from his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That’s why ‘The Green Olmsted” Mayor Dyster cannot come out against the Cuomo lodge on Goat Island. He cannot serve both the people of Niagara Falls and Albany. To ask him to do so is unfair. In electing Dyster to a third term, after two terms of his serving Albany over Niagara Falls’ interest, the people gave Dyster a mandate: Serve Albany with all your heart and soul.

Then a couple of weeks later, he stated in a press release that “Goat Island is only one of several locations that could be considered as an option for a lodge. I am confident that we can find a location that residents and visitors alike will find more suitable.”

Now, this is leadership of the highest caliber if we ever saw it.

Dyster, who signed off on the south Robert Moses Parkway upgrade which functions as a driveway to the 1,500 parking spaces in Niagara Falls State Park, cutting off access to the upper Niagara River and diverting traffic away from the city’s downtown business district and, as Vice Chair of the Greenway Commission, presided over the vote to approve the Niagara Falls State Park Landscape Improvements plan which resulted in the bulldozing and fencing off of Three Sisters Islands and expanded parking and food service in the park, again, in competition with his city’s downtown, as usual came down on Cuomo’s side to the detriment of the city of Niagara Falls when it comes to the waterfront and the tourist riches that accrue from it.

Displaying such resolute dedication, such backbone, in his advocacy for the city and the interests of the citizens who live in it, comes naturally to Mayor Dyster. We found his stated position on the Goat Island hotel issue so clearly in favor of “doing the right thing” and standing up for justice, our heritage and our prosperity that we were inspired to look up the words of other great leaders of history who stood up when it counted and charted the course of human destiny.


For example, on the eve of World War II, with Britain facing imminent invasion by Nazi Germany, Prime Minister Winston Churchill took to the airwaves to tell the British people, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills… Unless we can find a location that residents and visitors alike will find more suitable.”

A couple of decades later, at the height of Cuban Missile Crisis tensions, President John F. Kennedy laid down an ultimatum to the Russians: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union… although any response against the Soviet Union could be considered as an option.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King proclaimed, “I’ve been to the mountaintop… And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! Unless we can find a location that residents and visitors alike will find more suitable.”

The Lord himself set forth, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, although this particular rock is only one of several locations that could be considered as an option.”

“I have been assured that the public’s input on where a lodge might be located will play a critical role in determining the final decision,” continued Dyster, much as the public had input into the south Parkway, Landscape Improvements plan, new State Parks Police barracks on the Niagara Gorge, and other state decisions on how to manage Niagara Falls waterfront.



In this artistic impressionistic work, Gov. Cuomo (left) is advising Mayor Dyster (middle) on inquiries from the press (right) about a lodge on Goat Island. Cuomo says, “Pauley, when they ask about whether you support the lodge, put your hand by your nose and say, ‘yes… and then again, no.’ “

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