Desperate Eminent Domain ‘Taking’; Niagara Falls Mayor Wants to Redefine ‘Blight’ to Include Forest Land

Last week, Niagara Falls residents gathered in the city council chambers for the third public hearing on Mayor Robert Restaino’s idea for a Centennial Park.

It was clear from the speakers that there is opposition to Mayor Restaino’s plan to use eminent domain to take 10 acres of forest land from Niagara Falls Redevelopment (NFR), based on designating the land as urban blight.

The property the mayor covets is on John Daly Blvd across from the Seneca Casino and has been referred to as Parcel 0.

The mayor admits there is no funding for Centennial Park, but assures the public that if he can’t get funding, or changes his mind, he can hand the property to a developer to develop a project of his choosing.

There is no funding for the estimated $20 million cost of taking Parcel 0 through the eminent domain process. Eminent domain is the forcing of a sale of property, but the courts determine the fair price to be paid to the owner.

The mayor assured the public that the city could divert federal funds for road repairs and other services to get about half the cost of forcing the sale of the land.

Mayor Restaino provided granular detail, explaining that the City can borrow $10 million in Community Block Grant funds to acquire Parcel 0 — and pay back $20 million over 20 years.

Mayor Robert Restaino wants Parcel 0 and to stop NFR from developing its land.

While the Mayor says his Centennial Park idea will cost possibly $150 million, he admits he cannot know for certain because he does not have a final plan.

One of the mayor’s sketches for Centennial Park.

Technically, the mayor is not taking NFR’s land to build Centennial Park. He is taking the land because it is “blight.”

If, after he takes the “blighted” land and cannot get the money for Centennial Park, he can give the land to a developer the mayor knows will do something with the land other than what NFR, the landowner, proposes – which is to build a $1.5 billion Niagara Digital Campus.

Many in the audience at the hearing showed interest in NFR’s proposal for Parcel 0 — a $1.5 billion data center and technology hub. The project would bring 550 jobs to the City—along with enhanced broadband and other high-tech spinoffs. The plan would require no taxpayer money.

During the almost four-hour meeting, John Horn, an attorney for NFR, questioned the validity of the mayor’s eminent domain case.

One of the bigger challenges the mayor faces is that treed land is not by legal definition “blight.”

If the mayor can get forested land like Parcel 0 classified as blight, it could set a precedent for government to more easily take forest and possibly farm land from landowners.

The legal definition of blight is associated with building on property, not the land itself.

The Restaino Taking would expand blight to include forest land.

The Restaino plan would change the way vacant land is owned in New York, from where private property owners have priority of using their land as they wish, to a new, more, if one will, “woke” idea of the government determining who the right and wrong owners of land should be, by taking from the wrong and giving to the right by labeling land as blight.

If the Restaino precedent passes muster with NY Courts, blight will no longer have to be associated with buildings in one state at least.

Throughout the presentation, Horn challenged the mayor on how the mayor planned to fund his idea, and suggested Parcel 0 isn’t the proper location for Centennial Park.

The location may be moot. Horn acknowledged that Mayor Restaino may never build Centennial Park. But the mayor never said he would. The mayor said he plans to take the land from NFR based on his theory that vacant land can be blight. He does not have to build Centennial Park.

Speakers opposing the mayor’s plans included Ed Hill, Jr., who represented the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) as an International Representative in Business Development. He called the NFR project “much needed” and “an incredible opportunity for the City of Niagara Falls.”

Other speakers included Dennis Ellsenbeck, former National Grid executive; Jim Swzedo of the Niagara Street Business Organization; Jeff Flach, businessman; Mike Gawel, CPA and City Council candidate; and James Abbodanza, an IT Specialist and City Council candidate.

Many speakers said if the mayor is earnest about building an events center, he is building it in the wrong place.

The mayor made it clear that his priority is to prevent NFR from developing its $1.5 billion project.

The city’s eminent domain “trees-are blight” argument will be heard before the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court on May 22, 2023, with a decision expected months later.

If Mayor Restaino can convince the court that wooded land is blight, and blight justifies the public purpose of taking land from the owner, a new partnership between private developers may make way for new precedents in campaign financing exemptions.



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  • The mayor continues to accuse NFR of suggesting people should give up their homes, but he doesn’t identify specifics.
    Does FR know what proposal the mayor is referring to?

  • As I said in a previous post, something ain’t right here. Now the Mayor’s defense for eminent domain is “blight”? Seriously?
    I smell payola. Someone is lining the Mayor’s pockets. Seriously.

      • The purposeful destruction of once-great cities in America might be out of some Scientology playbook somewhere. New uses of the term “blight” in eminent domain cases probably aren’t.

        Cases of eminent domain in the era of America’s industrial decline often reference the term “blight” when describing any use of land causing the decline (on purpose or not) of cities, local economies, cultural values, the potential for a tourism where tourism once thrived … etc.

        Large tracts of unused prime real estate doing nothing for years can wreck a city, on purpose or not.

        Scientology, NXIVM, WEF, Marxism, technocracy, transhumanism … etc. are blight as dangerous as vacant lots littered with empty bottles in beautiful places like Niagara Falls.

  • More troubled Child TV star News

    Former Nickelodeon Child Star Amanda Bynes on Psychiatric Hold After Being Found Wandering the Streets Nude

    Former Nickelodeon child star Amanda Bynes has been placed on a psychiatric hold after being discovered wandering alone and naked on the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Sunday morning.
    (Maybe NXIVM Tech can help Amanda Bynes.)

    A bystander claims Bynes waved her down, told her she was coming down from a psychotic episode, and then called 911 on her own, according to TMZ.
    Police officials told TMZ Bynes was taken to a local precinct house where it was determined that she would be placed on a 72-hour 5150 psych hold.
    The What a Girl Wants star is reportedly still hospitalized and will remain in the care of doctors for several days.
    Amanda Bynes has been placed on a psychiatric hold after she was found roaming the streets naked and alone, TMZ reports.
    Just a year ago, Bynes was given her freedom when a judge ended a lengthy conservatorship that was initiated by her mother.

    “The court determines that the conservatorship is no longer required and that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship of the person no longer exist,” Ventura County Superior Court Judge Roger Lund wrote in March of last year.

    An L.A. court granted the conservatorship to Bynes’ mother, Lynn Bynes, in August of 2013 after the actress was released from a facility where she was being treated for mental health issues.

    In 2001 she began making feature films with her first outing, Big Fat Liar alongside fellow child star Frankie Muniz. But by 2012 she began exhibiting strange, self-destructive behavior, and was hospitalized several times for mental distress, which ultimately led to her mother seeking conservatorship in 2013.

    • She may have been subjected to sexual abuse as a child-star. Hollywood is run by pedophiles, drug addicts and rapists. Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, etc etc. The Democrat Party is as well.
      The three most dangerous spaces for children:
      1. Public schools
      2. Entertainment industry
      3. Democrat Party politics


      ~ Pilgrim

    • “... the mining of cryptocurrency is a computationally intensive process with a growing ecological impact ...” says:


      If the mayor cares more about the people of Niagara Falls than the owners of Google, Amazon and central bank digital currency, that’s a good thing.

      Would the “data centers” take water from Niagara Falls to cool the servers?

      Some “data centers” use diesel fuel to power the cooling systems. Would the proposed “data center” run on renewable energy sources or diesel fuel?

      How loud would the data center be?

      What would it do to the environment? What would it do to the wildlife in the area?

      What would it do to the health of the people living and working there?
      “In Bluffdale, Utah, residents are suffering from water shortages and power outages, as a result of the nearby Utah Data Center, a facility of the US National Security Agency (NSA) that guzzles seven million gallons of water daily to operate.”

      “… the Cloud now has a greater carbon footprint than the airline industry. A single data center can consume the equivalent electricity of fifty thousand homes. At 200 terawatt hours (TWh) annually, data centers collectively devour more energy than some nation-states. Today, the electricity utilized by data centers accounts for 0.3 percent of overall carbon emissions, and if we extend our accounting to include networked devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, the total shifts to 2 percent of global carbon emissions. …”

        • Sorry. I thought you meant the mayor is crazy for wanting something other than a huge crypto mining /data storage building so close to Niagara Falls and right across from a business owned by a Canadian First Nations tribe. It seems like he’s a good guy.

          • If he’s a good guy, why not put his cards on the table? Why not bring up some points like you did? Why not ask the Niagara Falls residents if they would want such an evil data center in their town? Why even allow the data center in another Niagara Falls location? Shouldn’t he send NFR packing to one of the other cities who would be lining up with financial incentives to get the data center and the jobs to their community?

  • In the UK, we don’t have eminent domain. It is called compulsory purchase. I can’t see the term eminent domain without thinking of Burt Gummer.

  • Ed Hill, Jr., who represented the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) as an International Representative in Business Development. He called the NFR project “much needed” and “an incredible opportunity for the City of Niagara Falls.–

    Why is this not enough? Why is the city of Niagara Falls not listening to the people? Who is in favor of the mayor’s proposal? Besides the mayor.

  • I thought a condition of blight was “a previously successful and functioning area that falls into disrepair.”
    How is wooded land considered blight.

    Another slippery slope… if they allow this, the government will be able to seize whatever property they want.

    • The slippery slope might have been the abandonment of 140 acres and proposed “data center” next to Niagara Falls.

      Ions are particles with a positive or negative electrical charge. Positive ions in electromagnetic fields cause harm.

      “… The rushing water of the the Falls creates the largest source of Negative Ions in the world. These ions make you feel happy and content. Medical doctor Red Soyka in his book, The Ion Effect (1977) said, ‘Niagara Falls is the most stupendous negation generator in the world and these negative ions create a sense of well-being.’ …”

      everything is energy

  • I can’t believe they’re entertaining this argument. It’s clear the mayor is taking advantage of the people– and setting precedent for giving the government even more power. Niagara Falls has plenty of property that could stand to be developed or renewed with great ideas. Let the mayor launch his project elsewhere.

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About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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