Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster has done a good job against tough odds and in a city with long-standing problems.
It is startling that citizens strain to reach the reasonable conclusion that he deserves another term. Yet Dyster barely squeaked by his primary opponent and now faces John Accardo, who runs an insurance agency on Pine Avenue and previously served three consecutive terms as chairman of the City Council.
While Accardo rightly believes that balancing the budget with casino money is a bad practice, he fails to present viable solutions or plans beyond somehow leveraging Nik Wallenda’s fantastic wire walk across the falls.
Dyster is far from the perfect mayor. He has admitted as much, but has done a decent job under trying circumstances. Even Accardo recently gave the mayor’s performance a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, which he later attributed to the fact that being mayor is a tough job.
In seeking his third term, Dyster wants to fulfill the aspirations of a community on the rise. Tourism is stronger than ever, Old Falls Street has been rebuilt and includes the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute and hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and the nationally known Rainforest Café.
Plans call for redeveloping two-thirds of the former Rainbow Centre shopping mall into a multiuse property that will include hotels and attractions. Major changes in the Robert Moses Parkway will eventually restore access to the Niagara River north and south of the city.
The mayor also has his eye on industrial opportunities. As he tells it, the city has a variety of companies that are poised to play a significant role in the supply chain for the $900 million SolarCity project taking shape in Buffalo.
Niagara Falls under this mayor has made progress. Downtown is much improved, which is starting to create housing demand. Still, there are many vacant properties that have to be addressed and Dyster will need to find creative ways to go about the task.
It’s natural for voters to feel fatigue when someone has been in office for eight years, but Dyster continues to be the effective leader Niagara Falls still needs.
Monday: Erie County Legislature.