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Video: Hard Hats of the Niagara power project

Former workers speak of their experience building the Niagara power station, which opened July 16, 1963.


This blog has turned off the lights for the final time.

We've got a new blog for all things Niagara Falls called The Brink. Check it out.

Hornblower reaches out to business community

By Charlie Specht

The new Canadian competitor of the Maid of the Mist is reaching out to the Buffalo Niagara business community in its fight to gain the American boat tours from the Maid.

Hornblower Cruises recently sent a letter to business and tourism leaders who came out earlier this month in support of the Maid.

"In our view, the 'Niagara Falls' are the 'iconic attraction' and people come to the area to see the Falls -- not the Maid of the Mist. The boat tours simply provide a means for visitors to enjoy those scenic wonders," Hornblower chief executive Terry MacRae writes.

Both companies are jostling for the right to run boat tours on the American side of the falls. Hornblower beat out the Maid last year for the right to run the tours on the Canadian side, and now the company is  suing the state to try to get the American tours, too.

You can read the letter by clicking here.

Copy of Hornblower lawsuit against Maid, state

By Charlie Specht

As reported in today's News article, the Maid of the Mist's Canadian competitor has sued the Cuomo administration and the Maid, challenging the legality of a deal that keeps the "iconic" company in business.

It's clear from the lawsuit that Hornblower is, in many cases, attempting to use the state's own words and logic against it. It also references a number of interesting legal cases -- some local -- on the matter of public bidding law. 

Falls council to meet early on Monday

By Charlie Specht

Niagara Falls council leaders have moved up the time for Monday's city council meeting.

The council will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday, the city clerk announced this afternoon. The original meeting time was 7 p.m. at Council Chambers, City Hall, 745 Main St.

The council's regularly scheduled work session will again take place at 4 p.m., and the council will vote on the agenda items at the 4:30 p.m. meeting. No 7 p.m. meeting will take place, council staff said.

Council Chairman Glenn A. Choolokian gave no reason for the time change in his letter to the city clerk. You can read the agenda by clicking on this link and view the resolutions the council will vote on here.

Dyster challenges council to match arts funding

By Charlie Specht

Call it the latest round of the battle to fund the arts in Niagara Falls.

Mayor Paul A. Dyster this morning called on the city council to accept a $15,000 "challenge" grant made earlier this month by the John R. Oishei Foundation.

The grant, if matched by the city council, would go to fund the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center, which features dozens of artists and musicians that teach classes in the former Niagara Falls High School on Pine Avenue.

Robert Moses Parkway designs

The Robert Moses Parkway from downtown Niagara Falls to the city's North End will be ripped out. The southern part of the road -- from the North Grand Island Bridge to Niagara Falls State Park -- will remain. (Photo: Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By Charlie Specht


New plans for the Robert Moses Parkway, announced this afternoon, are sure to be viewed as both complicated and controversial.

For those interested in all the details of the plans -- and for those on each side of the argument -- I have posted links to all three of the proposed designs below. 

Keep in mind that all three designs include some common elements like removal of the parkway between Main Street and Findlay Drive, the redesign of Whirlpool Street as a park-like road, and a new multi-use pedestrian trail that ties into surrounding streets.

State officials they will get started on those elements even as the other details -- the future of the parkway north to Lewiston and to state parks along the way -- are figured out.

 After another round of public comment, these three designs (of the original six) will eventually be whittled down to one (designs 1, 2 and 5 have been eliminated):

Design 3: Two-lane park road to Lewiston ($52 million)

Design 4: Parkway removed at Power Project ($49 million)

Design 6: Full parkway removal to Lewiston ($33 million)

Comments on the designs should be emailed to

More on the Moses


The Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls near the Whirlpool Bridge saw little traffic when this photo was taken in 2011. (Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News)


By Charlie Specht

The Robert Moses Parkway has been despised by the City of Niagara Falls since it was built in the 1960s. 

But not all people on the Niagara Frontier want to see the roadway ripped out, as the state is considering. In fact, a small but vocal group of "parkway preservationists" in Lewiston want the road to remain as a direct north-south route for tourists coming from Niagara Falls.

That's just one reason the redesign of the parkway is a complicated issue, and one that likely won't be resolved for another few years. 

Oishei offers to restore Niagara arts funding


Dave Gifford, of Youngstown, works on an original oil painting this summer at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls. Funding for the arts center was recently cut by the City Council. (Photo: Charles Lewis/Buffalo News)

 By Charlie Specht

The John R. Oishei Foundation is stepping in to stave off funding cuts to Niagara Falls' cultural arts center.

The Buffalo philanthropic group is willing to match any amount -- up to $15,000 -- restored by the Niagara Falls City Council, which cut the funding last week.

“We see the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center being a significant part of Niagara Falls’ cultural identity and the city’s artistic heart,” foundation president Robert D. Gioia said in a statement. “Our investment in the formation of NACC has been substantial. While we will move to protect the NACC’s current status, it is our strong hope that the public funding critical to its continuing existence will be forthcoming.”

The city council three-man majority -- Glenn Choolokian, Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr. -- has cast doubt on that prospect, saying the arts center, after 10 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding, needs to become self-sufficient.

I spoke with Choolokian, who said he has not had a chance to formally review the offer. We might get a glimpse of the council's response later in the week as the agenda for Monday's council meeting takes shape.

Love Canal audio and video


Workers in 2011 found Love Canal-era chemicals in this sewer on Colvin Boulevard in Niagara Falls. Residents say those chemicals rushed into their homes and basements. (Photo: Charles Lewis/Buffalo News)


By Charlie Specht

Here's some audio and video to go along with Part I and Part II of our Love Canal series this weekend. 

The first video, by Derek Gee, is of the Herr family worrying about the health and safety of their children. You get a sense of what the neighborhood really looks like. The second, by Charles Lewis, is a tour of Love Canal with Mike Basile of the EPA.

Also check out this audio of Dan Herbeck and I speaking this morning on WBFO about our series.

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