For Cayuga Island residents, a small word of advice: Keep your eye on the ball.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster sent a special campaign mailer to all Cayuga Island homes last week calling the writers at the Niagara Falls Reporter "liars" because we suggested his plan for Jayne Park is lying dormant until after the election.
"As usual the Reporter is not telling the truth," he wrote.
He added that "wealthy interests" want to "control City Hall," and that is what prompts the Reporter to lie about him.
Indeed, a couple months ago Dyster threatened to sue the Reporter for alleged "lies."
To date he has declined to do so, in spite of repeated and brazen public invitations by Editor in Chief Mike Hudson, who said he is eager to be sued in order to, among other things, "depose Dyster under oath and get to the truth."
By the way, it has been the Reporter's long-standing contention that "wealthy interests," mainly from Buffalo, already do control City Hall. To say Dyster is in charge of City Hall is like saying Mickey Mouse is in charge of Disneyland.
As for Jayne Park, it was the Niagara Falls Reporter, not the mayor, that told Cayuga Island residents about Dyster's plans in the first place. That was back in May 2009. The cover story provoked outrage and the signing of a petition by more than 350 residents of Cayuga Island.
The Reporter informed the public that Dyster was trying to sneak past residents, without properly advertised public hearings, a plan for Jayne Park, designed by the Peter Smith Consulting Company of Buffalo and under the direction of City Planner Tom De Santis, that featured canoe launches, paved parking, paved walking trails, new restroom facilities and picnic shelters.
The Reporter revealed that Dyster had $290,000 in funds set aside, including a matching Greenway grant already approved, and contracts all but inked for work to commence. Residents would have learned about it when bulldozers showed up at Jayne Park.
The plan would have changed the character of Jayne Park from a neighborhood park to one that people from around the region would use as a starting and ending point for the Blueway canoe trail and a handsome spot for parties, picnics and end-of-route canoe outings. Jayne Park would be a bustling place day and night, which may be good or bad, but deserved more input than what Dyster had in mind from the people most affected by it -- the people of Cayuga Island.
In his recent mailer, Dyster does not mention any of this. He merely says we are liars and now, finally, says he will not have a canoe launch or parking lot in Jayne Park. Why did it take him almost three years to write this letter? Why did he let the people of Cayuga Island wait and wonder and anguish about the fate of Jayne Park? Now that he sent the mailer, should they stop worrying?
Obviously, Dyster's mailer has more to do with the fact he is running for re-election and less to do with the concerns of Cayuga Island residents. Dyster must be aware that many on Cayuga Island have said they will not vote for him because of his trickery about Jayne Park.
Dyster tried a shifty ruse. He said in the mailer that the Jayne Park plan residents hated so much was not his plan, but a plan from a previous administration.
It is half true. Back in 2001, before Dyster was mayor, there was a less-invasive plan designed by longtime City Planner Tom De Santis. It had been lying dead for years.
De Santis revived and revised the Jayne Park plan during the Dyster administration, in 2008, adding parking, tree removal, shoreline development, restrooms, picnic shelters and more paved trails.
The changes were needed to spend all the Greenway grant, and the result would be to convert Jayne Park completely from a quiet neighborhood park to an exciting regional park.
Regardless of whose plan it was, Dyster and De Santis were still the sole forces behind trying to get the plan implemented. That, too, Dyster did not mention in his mailer.
Residents should re-read the mailer and see how Dyster, who tried to get this plan implemented, until the residents objected en masse, is now trying to convince them that the plan came from another mayor and another time, and that he had nothing whatsoever to do with it. To hear him tell it, he was just another innocent victim, like the residents, of the Jayne Park plan.
A brazen lie. Who is that stupid? Who votes for a man so self-serving and dishonest?
Dyster goes on to say in his mailer there will be no canoe launch or parking lot. He does not mention the possibility of enlarged restrooms, picnic stations, paved trails, and other changes that will be necessary to access the matching Greenway grant money of $145,000, which in turn can be used to help reward campaign contributors and wealthy Buffalo interests who have an abiding desire to get more canoe access points along the Little Niagara River.
Dyster also says in the mailer that he won't put in a "parking lot," but that does not mean he won't put in any parking. By definition, parking lots have certain specific design standards, but modified parking areas (including more street parking) have not been ruled out.
Had it not been for the "lying" Reporter, Dyster would not have addressed the issue at all. Jayne Park today might have 25-foot-tall floodlights to illuminate a beautiful paved parking lot, expansive picnic shelters, canoe launches, and perhaps happy beer-drinking revelers from all over the region at 2 a.m. on Saturday nights.
If Dyster is re-elected, he may reach out to residents, as he is doing now, to tell them about changes he may have in mind for Jayne Park. Maybe he will do nothing to Jayne Park, just like he now says.
Still, the money is there from a matching grant. He has not sent that back -- that is for sure.
You have to wonder. Early in his term, when it mattered to residents, he did not bother to send a single mailer mentioning the rather drastic changes proposed in Jayne Park. Now that he is preoccupied with getting re-elected, he sends out a last-minute mailer saying the Reporter lies and Jayne Park won't change.
If I were a Cayuga Island resident, I think I'd keep a watchful eye on Dyster in the event he is re-elected.
No, not just because of some last-minute election mailer; no, I don't think I'd take my eye off that ball.