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By James Hufnagel

The campaign to save the DeVeaux Woods Carriage House may well turn out to be the rallying point in history from which the city of Niagara Falls finally began the process of throwing off the oppressive yoke of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It was reported first in this publication.

NYSOPRHP -- or State Parks, as they are commonly called -- by hijacking the eight million tourists who visit Niagara Falls State Park every summer, is directly responsible for the dire economic conditions that plague the city.

State Parks owns and operates 80 percent of our waterfront, perpetrating a conspiracy with the multinational corporations Delaware North and Maid of the Mist to deprive the city of the benefits of existing next to one of the great natural wonders and tourist attractions of the world.

Eight million tourists a year park, dine, sightsee, purchase souvenirs, and then leave the park on a dedicated roadway without setting foot in or spending a dollar in the city.

State Parks is the most reprehensible, double-dealing, deceitful bureaucracy ever to crawl out of the sewer that is Albany politics. They mouth the lie that the Niagara Falls State Park is an Olmsted park, at the same time paving more parking spaces and bus lanes, putting up more garish signage, emptying more quarters out of the coin-operated binoculars, and serving up more disgusting Delaware Northburgers to unsuspecting tourists.

Delaware North fast food -- now there's something Upton Sinclair could have written about.

Over the past four years -- yes, since Democrats Ash and Thomas took over stewardship -- DeVeaux Woods State Park has been transformed into a State Parks junkyard. Abandoned vehicles, piles of rubbish, discarded junk and assorted State Parks detritus litter the grounds and constitute a hazard to children playing on the ball diamonds next door.

Like anyone living next door to a junkyard, the neighbors complain, for the little good it does. After all, State Parks doesn't answer to the city of Niagara Falls or the residents of Lewiston Road.

The DeVeaux Carriage House, an architectural wonder that, if properly restored, could serve any number of functions and be an asset to both the neighborhood and the city, was to be torn down to the tune of $200,000 ending up in some Albany campaign contributor's pocket.

No one seems to know what State Parks does with the $3 million in Greenway cash it receives every year except remodel bathrooms, or rebuild the Cave of the Winds attraction so that Albany can abscond with even more tourism revenue.

With "Historic Preservation" part of State Parks' official name, you'd think they would take seriously their responsibility to protect instead of destroy the architectural gem that is the Carriage House, but it's obvious these clowns don't know Frank Lloyd Wright from Orville and Wilbur Wright. Or even Dudley Do-right, for that matter.

It's the tradition of this newspaper to report news that the politicians and the local daily would just as soon see swept under the rug. Then, when a story that first appears here becomes too big to ignore, everybody and their brother jump on the bandwagon -- and that, of course, is what we're witnessing with the saga of the Carriage House.

Take Gazette columnist and State Parks pitchman Don Glynn, for instance. Don does a fine job keeping us apprised of the sunny side of State Parks, despite the fact that his brother's ownership of Maid of the Mist places him in a precarious journalistic position ethics-wise.

For the past three months he's taken up space in his column with innocuous paeans to, variously, Irish pride, the Catholic Church, the Moses Power Project, border issues, a local athlete made good, and scandalous behavior by politicians who don't have any influence or impact on his family's economic well-being.

However, on March 30, one day after the Carriage House story broke here in the Reporter, Glynn was back at it, reporting favorably on State Parks' proposals to build conference centers and hotels in Joe Davis and Fort Niagara.

Should either become a reality, they would generate revenues for Albany at the expense of private-sector businesses like Barton Hill, the Water Street Landing and the Niagara Falls conference center, much like his family's boat ride, gift shop and observation deck in the park have done for as long as anyone can remember.

The high-level State Parks informant who passed along the bad news about the Carriage House is a good friend of Don Glynn. Glynn was told about the impending demolition of the Carriage House days before I was, but did he report the information to the community? Of course not. Glynn would never say anything reflecting negatively on his family's paymaster.

The Gazette "Cheers and Jeers" column featured a blurb about the Carriage House a couple days later, possibly written by Glynn, the clue being the use of an odd language construct perhaps intended to obfuscate State Parks' culpability. It contended that "We think the state park should make its intentions known as soon as possible and work with the community to possibly save this historic site." The "state park"? Who would speak for the "state park," the guy who mows the grass there? Or should it say "State Parks"?

At a press conference at DeVeaux Woods State Park Friday, a message was received from new State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey granting an 11th-hour reprieve for the Carriage House, staying execution until December, at which time, if there are no definite plans and funding in place to restore the building, it will be razed.

In the meantime, kudos to Assemblyman John Ceretto for introducing legislation to recoup tax revenues from the Niagara Falls State Park. He's the first state legislator in recent memory to propose restoring the Niagara Falls legacy to the local community, at least in monetary terms.

Coupling Ceretto's bold move with the struggle for the Carriage House, this month will go down in history as when we told Albany and State Parks, "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com April 19, 2011