October 16, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Is John Simon Trying to Kill NFIA Terminal

We've picked up an interesting story from several sources concerning former NCIDA director John Simon. You may recall that Simon was pushed out of the IDA a few years back, leaving the organization on the brink of bankruptcy.

During his tenure, Simon was obsessed with taking over Niagara Falls International Airport. When the NFTA put out a plan to privatize the airport, Simon put together a proposal that would have put the airport on the backs of taxpayers. The NFTA instead chose to go with Cintra, an international company that had a large portfolio of airports.

Simon then enlisted the help of then-Congressman John LaFalce who made wild accusations about Cintra and did everything possible to sideline the deal. Eventually, Cintra walked away. (As an aside, Cintra has continued to invest and expand their international portfolio while NFIA remains essentially vacant. This in spite of LaFalce's promise at the time to line up major dollars for the airport if Cintra was out of the mix.)

Fast forward to today where the NFTA is finally about to invest in building a new terminal at Niagara Falls. There is both casino money and NFTA funds set aside for the project. Bids are being taken.

John Simon, who has been working for the OZ Project in Wheatfield -- yes a match made in heaven -- has quietly resurfaced in certain circles trying to derail the project, telling anyone who will listen that it should be killed and vowing to lead the charge to do just that.

Unbelievably, we are told a few politicians are actually taking him seriously. We've also been told that Tom Christy has bought into this nonsense....Tom, you are really putting your credibility at risk.

Let's be clear. Investment in a new terminal at NFIA must happen. We have all waited too long to have people with questionable track records like John Simon come out of the woodwork and screw it up.


Niagara Prognosticator said...

Ad homems aside, open discussion regarding the design and utility of the airport terminal are long overdue.

Yes, a new terminal is necessary, but those who question whether the NFTA is planning to build the right terminal are right to ask.

Is the NFIA to be just another by-way, or a real terminal? NFIA has the runways, so why shouldn't it have the terminal capacity to handle the larger passenger jets? If the NFTA just plans to replace what is already there, why waste the millions?

Because the NFTA is a NY Authority, it operates mostly out of the view of the public. And even those meetings that are public are poorly publicized and poorly reported. So even if these questions have been adequately addressed, much of the public has not yet been provided with the answers.

Before launching into attacks against the messengers, why don't you shed some light on what Mr. Simon is attacking. What issues is he raising? Are they valid concerns? Or are we just supposed to sit back, keep quiet and accept whatever it is that the NFTA has up its sleeve?

While you are citing track records, perhaps it should be noted that the NFTA's track record in promoting and supporting the NFIA has been less than confidence building.

Mr. Pink said...

John Simon has zero credibility on the airport issue and should never be taken seriously. He is trying to kill this for his own ego. Anyone who listens to him is a fool.

Let this investment go forward and if we need to expand, we'll do it.

Niagara Prognosticator said...

John Simon or not. The questions are still unanswered. Nobody here said that the project shouldn't go forward.

And from what I hear around the county, there has been under-the-breath-grumblings by quite a few local politicos asking these same questions.

So, if we take John Simon out of the mix, is it OK for others to question the project?

And wouldn't it be refreshing if the grumblers under the breath would for once in their pathetic public careers come out and ask these tough questions well before its almost time to put shovel to earth?

Clemenza said...

This is ridiculous. An moribund airport terminal that will be too small. Look at what they did in Buffalo. They built a new terminal and then when traffic demanded it, they expanded. That's the way you do these things.

I have heard some of the same arguments...not even seating for a 400 passenger flight. Here's a newsflash, no airport has enough seating for every plane and not everyone sits at once.

No, this new controversey is being put forth because Oz is going nowhere and Simon needs something to do.