December 31, 2007

Can Dyster Save Niagara Falls?

With his swearing in as Mayor of Niagara Falls this Tuesday, Paul Dyster becomes the successor to what has been a slew of one-term mayors. We do have high hopes for Dyster, despite questioning some of his initial appointments. For the most part, he has said the right things, and his willingness to enact a nationwide search for many key positions within his administration does show a willingness to think and act outside the box.

Dyster won with a staggering 80% of the vote in November. Now its time to show what he can do. The question is, what can he do? Can Paul Dyster turn Niagara Falls around? The city has been decimated by political and economic decisions that were made long before Paul Dyster came along. Even before Vince Anello, Jake Palillo, Jim Galie and Irene Elia sat in the mayor's seat.

So what will Paul Dyster be able to do that a long line of predecessors were unable to do? Yes, there are good things happening in Niagara Falls. The opening of the new Conference Center Niagara Falls in 2005; the redevelopment of the United Office Building, the new Theater in the Mist; the redevelopment of the former Holiday Inn Select as a new Crowne Plaza Resort with several restaurants including the city's first Starbucks Coffee; and other attractions such as the Niagara Aerospace Museum and the planned Niagara Experience Center; and of course, the Seneca Niagara Casino.

But what about the socio-economic woes of the city? Is opening a Starbucks going to address the staggering illiteracy rates that plague Niagara Falls? And as we've seen, a casino is hardly a panacea for the neighborhood around the Seneca Niagara Casino. Is revamping the Holiday Inn Select going to stem the tide of the massive amounts of drugs that are trafficking through this city every day?

As I've said before, I love the Falls. Obviously, since it draws 14 million people a year, I'm not alone. But what is it going to take to turn this world-class destination around? Another casino/hotel, this one 52 stories? That's not the answer. Buffalo Ave is a wasteland. From the 190 exit right into the city, the entire strip needs to be demolished. But who's going to do it? Is it the responsibility of our government to make this investment? Will anyone from the private sector ever make that type of commitment, knowing the return on investment is possibly non-existent?

Maybe this is alot to lay on Dyster, considering he hasn't even taken office yet. But we, as did 80% of the voting public in November, have high expectations of Dyster. Of course, we also had high expectations of Anello, Elia, Palillo and Galie. We can only hope that Dyster can differentiate himself from his predecessors, and return Niagara Falls to the glory days of years gone by - if that's possible.


William Wallace said...

"But what is it going to take to turn this world-class destination around?" ---Some action from above, be it the state or a minor miracle.

Dyster will likely be similar to his predecessors. He seems motivated to move things along, but until the state makes NY a more appealing place for people to live and for businesses to profit from, all we'll see is Starbuck's and other retail stores come and go.

Cut taxes, consolidate government, and cut services.

Simply take a look at the Carolinas, Florida, Virginia, states where people are moving. Their governments are smaller, they tax their people and businesses less, and thus, they are a place where people want to live, business flourishes, and people are collectively better off.

The problems facing NF and NYS as a whole are far beyond Dyster's control, but perhaps he can take advantage of something the government can't tax to death, NIAGARA FALLS!

Larry Castellani said...

Although the formal recommendations of Wallace are probably a good idea, it obviously doesn’t cut the mustard. Maybe we ought to reconsider what we mean by “world class destination.” We can’t and shouldn’t try to compete with other destinations that model themselves after Las Vegas and other such, though ‘successful’, cultural cesspools. If the Falls is the jewel in the crown, where’s the crown and what should it look like? Seems to me that Niagara Heritage Partnership has the best ideas. We should preserve, support and expand the natural wonder of the falls, the gorge, the river, the wine industry, and not use these things as an enticement to come and gamble. The illiteracy Hobbes mentions goes deeper than a generation of students who don’t know the difference between Dylan, ‘Dylan’ and “dealin’” drugs. What we can’t “read” are the cultural and natural possibilities that could restore a sense of “place” that matters and meets up to the idea of being a natural “world class destination.” But of course these are ideas that the business class doesn’t see a major profit in, are they? So we’ll continue to get exploited and waste away waiting for the promises of those who are going to save the day based on models that won’t work for us. So not even the Falls, let alone Dyster, can save the Falls from the shithole it sits in.

Anonymous said...

Larry Castellani-You are a self styled elitist snob and a hypocrite. I have been reading your comments all along. I find you to be a full of shit. You talk about hope but attack anyone that tries. You seem content to spout off your psuedo libertarian dribble but are more then happy to cash checks from a local community college. You can’t bash the system and its players and be a civil service functionary who sucks at the public tit. You’re a typical ivory tower jerk who is too afraid to get into the political fray but is content shooting spitballs at everyone else that does. If you really practiced what you preached you would get into the game and debate people publicly. Instead you are content preaching on blogs and to kids that have to take your courses.

Larry Castellani said...

Wowee!!! I think I’ve struck a chord with someone whose too much of a coward to use their real name even on a blog. I don’t know who it is you think I’m attacking by the way. I’m just pointing out that false hope and tried and true failure needs to be criticized. And apparently you wouldn’t know a libertarian from a neo-con fascist of which I’m neither. But why so sensitive about this incestuous “system and its players” that this blog, which believe it or not I really appreciate, seems to reflect. And if “avoiding the political fray” means not running for public office, you’re right. But my avoidance of that arena doesn’t make me all the other less than admirable things you’ve characterized me as. …. By the by I thought this was “public” debate even if not face to face?.... And if attempting to do critique or raise the bar or shift the context or reframe the questioning is “preaching” then I stand accused. It sure beats the incestuous gossip, insider snickering and back slapping that wastes so much space here. Maybe all you people on this blog do know the inside stuff, the names and the faces not to mention the history of Niagara County better than I do, but for we who aren't 'in the know', there’s another level of discussion that serves people just as well. Maybe I’ll catch up with what’s happening ‘on the street’ real soon and play a bigger part publicly. But until then and until you want to go public here, we’ll have to leave things as they are. And lastly all my courses at N-trip are elective and yet they are always filled up. You could take my course at N-trip but can’t register as Anonymous. And it’s sad you think so little of education and, apparently, public support of it.

sick & tired said...

Anon...LC may be an "elitist snob" but he's hardly "self-styled"!
: )

Sorry larry... couldn't resist the opening line.

In any even Anon, as long as we're passing out narrow-mined labels... I guess we'd have dub you the "angry everyman." that is, you're self-righteous anger pervades in your world-view. You profess some sort of empathy for the ruling class' as somehow misunderstood, but your reactionary tirade against someone who studies, thinks and teaches for a living is reminiscent of many historical tyrants and opressive movements.

First tear down that class of people who at different times in history are called the "elite" and "intelligentsia" and "academia." These are the most dangerous as they actually analyze for truth and consequence.

Next replace actual study, debate and discourse with certain "truths" that are to be accepted by the masses.

And then enforce those truths through secret oppression of individual thought, suppress debate by attacking those who don't seem to fall into the "Party line."

Followed by the suspension of civil liberties in the name of security, secret tribunals, suspension of individual rights and liberties and ultimately, suspension of representative government in favor of dictators, security counsels and the Executive Office Building.

All in all, I think thee are many elements of LC's opinions that deserve serious debate and consideration. he's right on about the failings of democracy and the need to strive for actions guided more in principle than self-interest. A noble view and argument that should be repeated and repeated until someone listens. Until someone in this country and community starts to stand up for what's right rather than what will get them elected or re-elected.

BTW... Happy New Year

pirate's code said...

LC -- "If the Falls is the jewel in the crown, where’s the crown and what should it look like?"

That may be the best question ever asked on this site.

Niagara Falls is living with past decisions that, today, hinder its development. No sense in arguing history -- for instance, 100 years ago or so the US side of the Falls gave up large swaths of its waterfront to industry, to take advantage of the power generated by the falls. Was that the right decision for that time? Probably.

But, times and circumstances have changed dramatically. Can we re-create what existed 100 years ago? 50? Even 25? Almost certainly not. Nor should we.

If Paul Dyster wants to separate himself from his predecessors, he will not pine for the good ol' days but instead will lead the discussion about the next 100 years. Learn from the past, to be sure, but don't attempt to replicate it.

I don't agree, Larry, that the so-called business class is what is holding this community back. What Arthur Page said in 1939 is as true today as then -- all business begins with public permission and exists by public approval.

We have a greater say in the future of our community than many, including many on this site, would think. That so many choose not to exercise that voice may be the biggest hurdle Dyster or anyone else in a leadership position has to clear.

William Wallace said...

P.C....(not to be confused with Politically Correct) I agree totally. It's time for elected officials to start taking hard stands on issues for the betterment of society, rather than take soft stands and compromise too much, for their own job security. Public officials need to serve the people and begin voting for what the community really needs: tax cuts and consolidating government (which means elminating some positions they could use for political favors). And the people need to vote for the people who are willing to do this and stop reelecting the ones who don't. And lastly, and most importantly, people need to run for office themselves. Satish in Erie County did it, but has had a hard times getting things done. More people need to run with the same goal of lowering the tax burden and consolidating government, things would happen. And PC's comment is spot on: all it takes is more people running with the right message and then following up with action. It's all there for the taking if people REALLY want it.

Anonymous said...

Sick & Tired describes Mayor Disaster um I mean Dyster to a tee (Janurary 01).

If anyone remembers him from his council days they would see that he is an egotist that would rather spout off what he has accomplished in the past then do something about the present. Negogiated in Bosnia? more likely brought coffee to the Generals and Ambasadores, maybe got to type the minutes of meetings. Very unlikely that a boy in his late twenties was given the floor in nuclear arms talks.

I've heard him refered to as a coward from those who have grown up with him.

A blatant liar I know for certain, he stated he interviewed all the department heads and did a merit based evaluation. I know for a fact he did not even get on the phone to some before dismissing them.

He bases many of his discissions on information from a grade 22 employee, Tom DeSantis who is so far out of touch he spends most of his time teaching at UB and I challenge anyone to find him in his City office, though he does still draw a full salary.

I would love to see this City transformed into a place that people WANT to live, play and do business. I wish the best to anyone that works for this end.
Unfortunately what you will get with Mayor Disaster is concentration on property that the City doesn't own or even has a chance to obtain (reservation park), be careful of the day this man wants to give 50% of the budget to the State for park improvements and it won't be Hyde Park or any of the neighborhood parks that need much attention.

Tom DeSantis, Disasters drinking buddy, once had a plan to cut short the reconstruction of Buffalo Ave and divert the monies to a STUDY of the RMP north. attempting to divert two million dollars that would benefit sorely needed infrastructure repair for a corridor that is not owned by the City and would have produced yet more paper and nothing for they common citizen like a nice new smooth street that would last 30 or 40 years.

Be ready for more of this with Mayor Disaster...