Published on August 25th, 2017 | by Ken Cosentino0
Niagara Falls in Critical Condition
I am reporting live from the city of Niagara Falls, NY where I have lived my entire life. The situation here has a reached a boiling point and it is time for the entire world to stop what they’re doing and look at what’s going on in my hometown.
To catch you up on things, let’s start with the players:
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster
Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt
President of the Seneca Nation Todd Gates
Niagara Falls Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti
A line has been drawn; On one side is the state and on the other side are the people. The city of Niagara Falls, NY is now facing bankruptcy due to “mismanagement of funds.” To sum it up: A compact between the state and the Seneca nation, in which the Seneca make payments from casino funds to the state (which trickle down to several counties, Niagara Falls included), has abruptly ended.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has placed all of the blame on the Seneca nation, saying they refuse to make payments which are owed to the state. However, almost everyone here in my hometown knows the truth: The contract ended. The Seneca nation paid exactly what they were entitled to over the past 14 years and they followed the contract to the letter. Legally, they are not entitled to pay out anything further from their casinos. Most people in Niagara Falls are saying “Why can’t our mayor just negotiate with the Seneca nation?” but apparently there is a state law which makes it so that the governor is the only one who is legally allowed to handle the negotiations. However, since we are living in Seneca territory, it strikes me as completely asinine that the mayor of Niagara Falls, NY would not have a solid working relationship with the host nation to our city. Even if the mayor cannot negotiate the casino compact, we should still be working with the Seneca to provide for the people.
The city of Niagara Falls, NY is named after the wonder of the world. The area immediately surrounding the waterfalls is state property, known as the Niagara Falls State Park. This area was never meant to be a state park, or any park for that matter. It was meant to be a natural preservation which belongs to everyone, so that we can all enjoy a slice of paradise in it’s natural state. This tradition of the state funneling money out of the park goes back over a century, and there is plenty of historical documentation to prove it.
The Niagara Reservation was created in 1883 by a group of naturalists known as Free Niagara. Led by Niagarian Thomas V. Welch, a local assemblyman, and natural architect Frederick Law Olmsted; Free Niagara came up with a plan to save the natural beauty of the area immediately surrounding the natural wonder. Prior to 1883, rich industrialists owned the area and the fear was that they would destroy it with industry and commercialization. The belief was that, by gifting the area to the state, the Niagara Reservation would be safe from the rich elite who were charging a toll for people to gaze upon the falls. In 1885, New York State paid the bill to the industrialists and through eminent domain, they seized the Niagara Reservation. New York State was supposed to maintain the reservation and make sure the roads were kept up. A group of locally appointed commissioners, led by the first superintendent of the Niagara Reservation Thomas V. Welch, were elected to oversee the terrain. Frederick Law Olmsted is also famous for the Yosemite National Park and for designing Central Park in New York City. He and Thomas V. Welch both died in 1903, just a few months apart.
The Niagara Reservation was not supposed to have any man-made structures except those which were absolutely necessary for the commission’s purpose of overseeing the grounds. There was to be absolutely no commercialization, and absolutely no tolls. What was put there naturally by God was to be untouched by man, and preserved for all future generations. Today on Goat Island, in the Niagara Falls State Park, there is literally a toll booth erected by the state. Many of the centuries old trees have been destroyed by Empire State Development… many of which were destroyed to open up a “better view” of the park for patrons of the Top of the Falls Restaurant, owned and operated by parasitic corporation Delaware North.
Even worse: There are three small islands in the Niagara river, accessible from Goat Island. These islands are also in the Niagara Reservation. Our story takes place on the third, most remote island. This is where Seneca ancestors, for over 1,000 years, would make offerings to the thunder god Hi’nö who was said to have lived behind the Horseshoe Falls. On this island prior to 2013, there stood megalithic stones. Gigantic, sacred stones which were coughed up by the Niagara river approximately 12,000 years ago after the last ice age began to thaw, and they naturally settled on this island. Since they were put there by the Creator and as such were a part of the natural beauty of the environment, according to the Niagara Reservation Act of 1883, which New York State agreed to, these stones should have been preserved.
They’re gone. In 2012, a presentation was held by Empire State Development at the Top of the Falls Restaurant. In this presentation, a new plan for “improving” the “natural beauty” of the park and restoring “Olmsted’s vision”, was put into place. The presentation was led by George Maziarz. It is said in official state reports that the presentation was held with “significant public input”, but it wasn’t. There was no public input whatsoever. Empire State Development moved in with construction equipment in 2013, destroyed the natural beauty of the third island and erected a railing and viewing platform. Beyond the railing is now off limits, and so access to most of the island is now forbidden. For the first time in history, Niagarians, members of the Seneca nation, and tourists cannot access this sacred place. What’s worse is that the several-ton stones were stolen and/or destroyed by New York State. I am not sure that they bothered to consult with the Seneca nation if it was alright with them to destroy an ancient site of sacred worship, but I’m guessing that they didn’t ask for permission…
…Empire State Development claims that the destruction was actually an “improvement” and it was done in the name of Olmsted’s vision. They planted some new flowers which are “native to the area” and installed slick pavers as a walkway. What they neglected to think about is the mist from the falls which make the pavers too wet to walk on most days. Our city’s elderly will no longer visit Three Sisters Islands for fear that they will slip and fall. When pressed about the stones, Sam Hoyt told me “I can’t speak to the stones.” (Jump to 6:50 for his response).
Even if you don’t care about the fate of the 50,000 or less Niagarians who are being used as leverage currently by Governor Andrew Cuomo, I beg that you consider some things:
The tourism industry in Niagara county is a billion dollar a year industry. The city of Niagara Falls, NY is now broke. A reported 8 million tourists visit the Niagara Falls State Park every year. If each of them spend just $100, that’s $800 million. Yet the city is still broke. New York State gobbles up the profits for Albany, and their business partner Delaware North enjoys the profits from the concessions. How could a city, which borders a natural wonder of the world, be broke? Not only is it broke, but we have the highest rate of crime per capita in the entire state. We have radioactive slag left behind from the Manhattan Project. We have toxic waste dangerously close to seeping into the Niagara river from Love Canal. We have a crumbling infrastructure and a heroin epidemic. This is the time for the state to step in and use the Buffalo Billions to save the lives of tens of thousands of my people… and instead, Governor Andrew Cuomo has denied the people a voice and used the city of Niagara Falls like a prostitute.
Our mayor has quite publicly taken sides with the governor against the people. Without the mayor as our voice, we are left somewhat speechless. Our city council exists so that the people have a voice, and a system of checks and balances is supposed to keep us protected as the council represents the people above all else. Well, it’s a local election year for city council, and incumbent councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti is up for re-election. Check this out:
“Thanks to the Team Cuomo members who showed up to help.” So Cuomo’s crew was sent from Albany, with resources and money, to publicly endorse an incumbent candidate for a local city election. Do you see anything wrong with this? This is a local election. The people are supposed to be represented on city council. The governor should have no say in this election. The picture above shows something unethical that should be illegal. What if, say, the people wish to stand against the state and demand our fair share of the tourism bucks from the park? How can we do that when New York State and Governor Cuomo have a plant sitting on city council, representing the interests of the state over the interests of the people? Imagine if the president of the United States were to send people, money and resources to publicly back a candidate for a local election! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Of all of the cities in New York State, how many of them do you think, when holding local elections, does the governor send support for a candidate? I rest my case.
In the past few days, Governor Andrew Cuomo has refused for the second time to meet with President of the Seneca Nation Todd Gates. Cuomo claims that he will not meet while there is an “ongoing investigation” into a listening device that was found in a state office, supposedly planted there by the Senecas. Gates slammed back that this investigation has nothing to do with Cuomo canceling his meeting as it’s a year old and only pertains to one member of the Seneca Nation. Gates claims that Cuomo is using this as an excuse to make threats against the Seneca Nation, which the governor has done by threatening to build a non-native casino in Niagara Falls. Cuomo was actually here the day he was supposed to meet with Gates, but for other non-casino related reasons. The governor’s threat that he will put up a non-native casino, without any input from the public whatsoever, should show the world that he is flaunting ownership over the city of Niagara Falls, NY. He won’t help the people, he won’t listen to the people, he won’t divert funding from the Buffalo Billions into the city to fight the poverty… but he makes it sound awfully easy to build a casino, or whatever else he pleases, here in my hometown at the drop of a hat.
Governor Andrew Cuomo stands by his claims that putting tens of millions of dollars into the Niagara Falls State Park will bring in more tourism, which he believes will then bring vast wealth to the city of Niagara Falls, NY. Yet we have 8 million tourists a year already and the city is broke. Our mayor depended on revenue from the casino to balance the budget, against advisory, and he built a $43 million train station which sees on average two passengers per day. Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt has called the state park and the falls a “product that needs to be marketed,” completely ignoring who the Creator of that “product” is, and why the Niagara Reservation exists to begin with. The Buffalo Olmsted Foundation has remained silent, but were very happy to accept a $300,000 donation from Delaware North in February.
Here, I drew you a picture to better explain:
Below is a link to some historical documents supporting my statements about the Niagara Reservation, which is the natural land upon which the Niagara Falls State Park sits. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have apparently forgotten the Historic Preservation aspect of their duties…
…we are at war in my hometown. We are peaceful, but the governor is not listening to the people. The mayor is not listening to the people. The whole thing oozes corruption and the Seneca are not to blame.
Currently, the world is unaware of this situation. It’s a powder keg and locally we are doing our best to preserve the peace. The world heard of the black water incident in July, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s happening in the city of Niagara Falls, NY involves major players, billions of dollars, many levels of corruption, and it’s all unbelievably true. Take time to read through the documents above by clicking the link, and godspeed.