Something Has Been Worked on With Mayor’s Fishy Event Center Scheme, But What?

Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino is hell bent on building his Centennial Park, actually not a park but a 7000-seat arena right at the entranceway of Niagara Falls Redevelopment land, on NFR land, and in so doing block NFR’s plan to build a $1.5 billion data center.

The Restaino arena, if he can borrow the funding, will be paid by taxpayers.

The data center he effectively kills would not cost taxpayers anything. The owners will pay for the data center.

Instead of costing taxpayers money, the data center will add money to the city’s coffers through hefty property taxes the owners will pay.

It’s hard to understand why Restaino is so headstrong about blocking the data center project, when there is demand for data centers. It is current and pressing.

The amount of data-center space in the U.S. grew 26% last year, and a record amount was under construction (Wall Street Journal). As the demand for artificial intelligence explodes, the need for data centers has increased rapidly, but due to resources, the industry is having trouble keeping up with the requests.

Niagara Falls has the opportunity to create 5,600 high-paying jobs with more than $250 million in wages, with economic spinoff benefits expected to top more than $810 million by bringing a data center to the city.

On the other hand, Restaino has yet to demonstrate that the city needs a 7,000-seat arena, or why he has to build it on land that will block an importnt development.

To illustrate a remarkable lack of planning, Restaino sued to take the land from the owners through eminent domain before he did a site selection study to see if experts in planning thought the land was the best choice for the arena.

To add to the bizarre element of the mayor’s practices, he also did not have professionals in finance and public events spaces do a feasibility study on the need for an arena and its financial viability until after he plunged the city into spending millions in legal fees by blocking the data center and provoking a legal fight from the billionaire owners of the land.

In rational government administrations, competent leaders do the feasibility study, including a site selection study, first.

If the studies support their hunch, competent public officials commit public resources and move forward.

One can’t help but think this is personal and not in the city’s best interest.

Indeed, one of the more surprising ideas the mayor came up with to pay for this ill-studied project was to cut back on road repairs for 20 years to borrow money to make the down payment on the land.

There may be a hint in his choice of locations. The land he wants to take is adjacent to the Seneca nation’s 50-acres carve out from the city for its sovereign territory and gaming complex.

Strange, because the city owns land closer to the local business. An arena on city-owned land would benefit city-owned business more than the Seneca, and not cost taxpayers anything to acquire.

Mayor Restaino’s obsession with 10 acres of NFR’s land doesn’t add up. It may be incompetence and recklessness. Or arrogance. It may be some sort of mental imbalance, like a mania, or vanity – he wants to say “look what I, Mayor Restaino, have done.” it may be vengeance. He may hold a grudge against the owners for some insult, whether real or imagined.

Mayor Robert Restaino

Or it may be something else, something that isn’t right on a much deeper level. One thing for sure is that this can’t be the way Restaino says it is.

Why would a mayor spend almost twice as much to build an arena in an area that favors only the richest neighbors, the Sencas, not the struggling locals, and provoke a legal fight that blocks a billion-dollar-plus project, and rewards a group of Buffalo attorneys with millions of dollars in legal fees?

Something has been worked on. But what?

Read also:

Million-Dollar Mystery: Mayor Hides Legal Fees from Council

Niagara Falls Mayor Restaino Tries to Block $1.5B Data Center for Dubious Arena Plan

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