By Ken Cosenstino
Mayor Robert Restaino spoke at the start of the “Thursday’s On Third” event, which showcases musical talent and local vendors on Third Street. According to one attendee, the mayor spoke about the success of the event and how it was an important factor in bringing tourism to the city of Niagara Falls. Unfortunately for Restaino, so many members of the crowd booed him so loudly that they drowned out the mayor’s speech.
One witness said, “He was basically booed off stage. I don’t like him but I felt bad for him because the booing was so loud.” The mayor’s wife was among those in the crowd and she started clapping and cheering loudly in a futile attempt to overpower the wave of boos. It didn’t work.
After Restaino was booed off stage, the mayor sheepishly hung around to mingle with vendors and attendees. Third Street business owners have historically supported Democrat mayors in the city of Niagara Falls. After all, for the last 20 years mayors have focused on the revitalization of Third Street, hoping to build it up as the city’s new entertainment district. Millions of dollars have been spent and while some progress has been made, much more needs to be done to bring Third Street back.
Considering the close proximity of Third Street to Niagara Falls State Park, it makes perfect sense for this small area to receive significant focus and funding. Crossing Main Street, tourists can head down Whirlpool and arrive at the Aquarium of Niagara within minutes.
Mayor Restaino has an opportunity to build his legacy project he calls “Centennial Park” with an adjoining event center on the corner of Third and Niagara Streets. The city already owns this property and community advocates and business owners, such as Jim Szwedo, have gone into great detail as to why this location is the best option for development.
In addition to the parcel being owned by the city, it comes with city-owned parking (at the Rainbow Mall ramp) which would mean that millions of dollars could be saved by not building another parking ramp. If the mayor chose this location for his project, it would continue the progress set forth by his predecessors in the entertainment district, while doubling down on our investment.
It would also save taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees accrued during the mayor’s eminent domain lawsuit against NFR. The mayor has ignored the experts and the taxpayers. He has chosen to pursue the NFR plot, dubbed “parcel 0,” which is right across John Daly Blvd from the Seneca Niagara Casino.
It’s no wonder Mayor Restaino was booed off the stage Thursday. He was bragging about boosting tourism but his words do not match his actions. If he really wanted to impress the Third Street business owners, he would take into consideration the economic impact his project would have if it were built right down the street from where he was booed.