Mayor Paul Dyster apparently thinks he's running against state Sen. George Maziarz.
At last week's meeting of the USA Niagara Development board of directors, Dyster lashed out at Maziarz, the third-most powerful man in the Senate. He said he believes the senator is trying to stop development in Niagara Falls.
"It's kind of like trying to turn a battleship sometimes," Dyster sputtered. "You have to really keep your weight on the rudder before you start seeing any results. But we are seeing results. There's a lot of positive development in the downtown area. There are also people who, for political reasons, want to stop that positive development in Niagara Falls, and I think that's what this is all about."
Battleships, swamps full of alligators -- Dyster's tortured analogies may be comedy gold, but are ultimately the sort of divisive, mean-spirited attacks a politician makes when he thinks he's in trouble with the voters.
The reality is that downtown development, such as it is, has been accomplished by the Seneca Nation of Indians, the owners of One Niagara and Niagara Falls Redevelopment, which has sunk more than $50 million into the city over the past 13 years.
USA Niagara's track record has included the disastrous reconfiguration of Third Street -- which all but eliminated parking and resulted in the closure of two popular nightclubs -- the demolition of the Wintergarden, and the obscenely expensive resurfacing of Old Falls Street with bricks imported from Italy and completely unsuited to the Western New York climate.
City crews have been patching spots where the brick crumbled with asphalt, in the hope that no one will trip and fall, and after only a couple years the resulting look is shabby at best. Maziarz said he's seen enough.
"To me, every cent of our economic development dollars should be equated to how many permanent, private-sector, living-wage jobs are going to be created," Maziarz said. "Whatever we're doing now, the mayor seems to think it's working. I don't know if the mayor goes into coffeeshops around this city, but I don't think people think it's working, and the statistics show it out."
Ten years and millions of tax dollars after its creation, USA Niagara's track record here is abysmal. Dyster, who never met a government program he didn't like, thinks the agency's doing a swell job.
Which is one of the reasons he'll be defeated in the upcoming elections.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||July 26, 2011|