More thoughts on our fine city

Back from Letchworth.

Before I left for a week away, I wrote about Jamal Pryor selling barbecue at 19th Street and Ferry Avenue and included a rant about how our local state and federal politicians don’t care about Niagara Falls.

If they did, we’d have a wastewater treatment plant, a drop in the bucket for the largest federal infrastructure bill in United States history.

A few predictable things happened:

First, an internet troll who thinks I don’t like Mayor Restaino jumped on me. The commenter seems to think this is because I believe a plan for a $150 million public facility should start with a feasibility study including siting.

I think investing $1 million on legal fees to obtain a plot of land adjacent to the casino, a half-mile from the entertainment district, is a fool's errand. For someone to try and tell me that’s a good idea is like asking me to run to Lewiston for pigeon milk or a lefthanded smoke shifter, to use practical jokes from Scouting.

The truth is, I have no quarrel with the Mayor. There are changes he could make – for example, the city should have a Conservation Council focused on trees and being a biophilic city, one that lives in harmony with nature.

I am sure such a council could come up with a greenprint promoting ecotourism with the support of the Greenway Commission, Western New York Land Conservancy and the Audubon Society. I am told it is even in the charter but has never been formed.

Imagine how much buy in the city might get if it promoted Birds on the Niagara.

There should be an arbor plan as well – there are grants available to plant new trees. We should have compost available to citizens. The same troll mentioned above about a month ago said the city sells its chipped brush to Villani’s. If we are going to be a green city, skim off 5% for gardeners. It would cost next to nothing.

As for how American Rescue Plan funds will be spent, I am happy to see the police and fire taken care of and a dog shelter engineered but I have heard nothing about what positive suggestions came from the forums held before the administration began spending money.

Almost as if on cue, newly minted Rep. Tim Kennedy showed up in the Falls today with Senate Majority Leader Schumer to decry “flagpoling" on Tuesday.

Flagpoling is when temporary Canadian residents come to the United States border, get denied entry, and then use the denial to get a new work permit in 30 minutes rather than 6 to 9 months so they can continue earning a living. Has anyone ever heard the term until Tuesday?

No one from the local government showed up to ask Majority Leader Schumer what he is doing about the wastewater treatment problem in Niagara Falls. Hopefully there are high-level things going on behind closed doors but I doubt it.

I didn’t see any local representative visible on the Channel 4 or 7 coverage. When Sen. Schumer visits here and uses it as a backdrop, he is making Niagara Falls a punchline, laughing at us because we don’t matter. And Kennedy showed up and kissed Schumer’s ring? What does Tim get for that?

And then, again, as if in cue, I received an email from someone alleging the mayor would not have allowed the Centennial Park feasibility study if the outcome was not preordained in exchange for an operating agreement ceded to an affiliated outfit that manages such venues.

As I considered it all, I spoke to an hospitality business operator who has invested millions and is spending more. Even as he pulls permits and spends, he shakes his head and wonders how the administration can spend $37,000 annually on a firm that is charged with rooting out illegal short term rentals, has been in place for a year and had nothing to show.

The legit operators know who the illegals are. Maybe rather than being aloof, and saying there is nothing wrong in Germany, the administration should ask the people working in the business.

Sooner or later, a firefighter or tourist is likely to die in a fire illegal short term rental readily identifiable by cross-referencing OARS property records and current internet listings.

Oh and hey, the Conservation Council, however the mayor dreams it, I would be happy to lead it. We need people who believe in Niagara Falls and have been here for 4 years. We also need people who believe in Niagara Falls and have been here their whole lives. We should work together to make the city a better place and stop backbiting at every turn.

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