January 7, 2011

Shattered Dreams

There's an old adage that I'm quite fond of that goes something like this: Excuses are like assholes - everyone's got one and they all stink. These days, it seems like the city of Niagara Falls has become one huge asshole, because all we seem to get out everybody and anybody who has anything to do with the city has one excuse or another for what ails them.

The latest one hasn't formally been made yet, but rest assured, it's coming. In fact, Gazette reporter Mark Scheer laid the foundation for the coming onslaught of excuses with this piece from Tuesday's paper surrounding the cancellation of a $400,000 state grant to billionaire Howard Milstein to refurbish the former Magaddino funeral home.

The grant, which was arranged by former State Senator Antoine Thompson, the recipient of sizable campaign contributions from Milstein, was to be part of a project called the Niagara Falls Gateway Redevelopment Project to turn the old funeral home property into a state-of-the-art administrative, operations and preview center. That sounds wonderful.

How the state could rescind funds for such a scintillating project as this one is beyond me. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that this project of sprucing up an old funeral home would have been exactly what the city needed to turn visions of prosperity into reality. Why else would Scheer devote nearly 450 words to the revocation of the grant, which came at the urging of the state Senate’s Office of Fiscal Integrity? Not to mention that virtually everyone agrees with the fact that Thompson shouldn't have been giving state grants to billionaire contributors in the first place. If nothing else, breathing new life into the old funeral home would have given the credibility of Milstein's Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp. a huge jump after years of completely screwing Niagara Falls.

Now the dream is gone. The impact on Niagara Falls will be devastating - it will take decades to recover. Mayor Paul Dyster will have to find new and innovative ways to revitalize the city. Since they don't have a funeral home to pin the city's revitalization hopes on, maybe there's an old whore house they could pump some money into; maybe there's a boarded up asbestos factory that could use some love. Then again, even if one of my suggestions comes to fruition, it can't possibly match the economic development potential that the refurbishing of that funeral home would have brought.

And so the saga continues.

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