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Politics and development in Niagara Falls

Most of the attention in local tourism these days centers on Nik Wallenda. But if you remember, a plan was pitched last year to draw visitors to downtown Niagara Falls during the winter months.

The Niagara Holiday Market was lauded by many for injecting life into Falls Street, but some local officials criticized it for the heavy public subsidies it received, and its future remains in doubt.

HolidayIdaho developer Mark Rivers, who put on the event, now says he won't be returning to the falls
because of the political acrimony and infighting that greeted him in the Cataract City.

“It was a well-intended project gone pretty well given all the challenges and considerations and the politics there, which are as brutal as you would find in the United States,” Rivers told the Idaho Business Review.

He added: “It’s a lesson learned for me. You can try to do good, but you have to do it in a place where doing good is possible."

That last comment might not land so favorably with local residents, but his sentiments about the obstacles to development mirror what many have been saying for years. 

Mayor Paul A. Dyster acknowledges that those complaints have some merit.

“This is a problem that has existed in Niagara Falls going back decades," he told the newspaper. "People just don’t know how to treat out-of-town developers and business people.”

The City Council, which was critical of Rivers from the start, appears ready to move on without Rivers. Chairman Sam Fruscione supports a more locally oriented festival being pitched by an executive at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls.

Read more about that effort in Sunday's Niagara Weekend section of The Buffalo News. 

--News Niagara Reporter Charlie Specht

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