Say nice things about Niagara Falls


Wednesday’s Short Take from Niagara Express

Short Take will be on a brief resource until next Tuesday.

If you’d like a beer or a hot dog, you can find me keeping up a family tradition started at Letchworth State Park in 1964 when Cabin Area A was near the lower falls.

It was so close to the lower falls that the state demolished it and built a loop of cabins today known as Area B in the late 1960s.

Sometime about 1972 or so, the state built Cabin Area A. That’s where we will be staying, at least 15 cabins, homage to Kubisties, Gencos, Myskiewiczs and O’Connells.

Ask our sons their favorite holiday and they will say “Letchworth.” Not Christmas, not Thanksgiving, but that one long weekend a year when they gather with their cousins and extended family, catch up, build over-sized campfires, eat too much and celebrate life.

There will surely be tomfoolery and skullduggery. Maybe some nonsense. None of it much matters. Every few years, an older soul passes. Some young GiGi shows up in his place. And next year we will be back. At Letchworth.

We will be in Niagara Falls, too. June makes it 3 years.

I remain committed to this place. If you read this far, thank you. If you subscribed to the Express, thank you.

Here’s the reality:

I had coffee today with a small business owner in Niagara Falls. She wants better and has invested heavily.
We met at Power City Eatery, as we sat down, Joe Hotchkiss was mowing the grass at the abandoned house next door.

I took his picture and then we chatted.

“Who owns that house or is it the city?” I asked.

“I am not sure,” he said, “but this is a big weekend and things have to look nice.”

If the city owns that house, it should have been mowed sooner, but Joe, as the adjacent interest, took ownership, at least of making sure it didn’t look like shit to start the summer even if that house has been heinously neglected. He even mowed the devil strip.

As my business owner friend and I talked, we discussed how messed up Niagara Falls can be. We are a city of 48,000 people or so, unable to find a common voice.

The newcomers and new business owners stand in one corner. Mayor Restaino stands in another, firmly supported by police and fire but somehow blindly unable to welcome new businesses and people who move here for the majesty of the place.

The School District is the biggest employer in the city and one of the best things we have going.

My meeting with that business owner was mostly about finding a unified voice. We have all these tribes, whether the newcomers like me, the young Black people, the church community disconnected from the young black people, the new people of Bangladeshi descent and even the old Italians who remember when the mafia ran things. Some refer to those as glory days, but this was a harder place to live. The murder rate was higher.

In the middle of that discussion comes a message about branding. You can still buy a house in DeVeaux or LaSalle for $250,000 or less when Lancaster, Clarence or Wheatfield would cost $350,000 to $500,000.

Our branding is broken because too often, the TV news stations only send a crew for a fire or a shooting or raw sewage dumped in the river again.

In WNY, people think Niagara Falls is one of Dante’s levels of hell. Many people would not come here, especially outside the state park or after dark.

They never have had a chance to listen to the rapid from my porch or visited the NACC, DeVeaux Woods dog park or Hyde Park for a ballgame.

It’s about branding and our elected officials are tone deaf. We should see our council, our county legislators and our state senator and assembly person screaming from the mount.


Where is Mayor Restaino? Where is our city council? What about Angelo Morinello and Rob Ortt? Are they ashamed of what they have presided over or proud of their accomplishments?

And spare me the praise for Brian Higgins. The largest infrastructure bill in history is all allocated and we don’t have a new wastewater treatment plant. Why does no one talk about that? I hope Tim Kennedy does better.

We need to present a unified, positive voice, through the Niagara Express as well as our government and on social media. The Gazette is dead. Tom Darro is on the air for an hour a day.

The Express gains subscribers every day. Between Facebook, and Next Door, I count between 2000 and 3,000 daily readers and almost 1,000 subscribers.

I need your submissions, input and events. Donations are always welcome. I won’t ever use a paywall at If you have ideas for how to make things better, email

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