Tonawanda News

October 4, 2012

OUR VIEW: Culinary credit is due


The Tonawanda News

— Allow us to clear up a couple of things about the development of the city’s new culinary arts center.

Contrary to comments made during last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, prominent Republicans in Niagara County weren’t always too keen on building the center inside the old Rainbow Centre Mall. In fact, several outright opposed it at various points.

That’s why we found it somewhat odd that Duffy went out of his way to praise the work local Republicans, including state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, and state Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston. It must have been some sort of pre-election, cross-the-aisle, political gesture.

Had Duffy truly understood the dynamics of the project’s development, he would have known many prominent GOP members — Maziarz included — supported efforts to move the project elsewhere.

Similarly, when he was a county lawmaker back in 2010, Ceretto joined other Republican lawmakers in questioning the Falls move, with the assemblyman saying at the time that he needed “more information” before he could support the Falls plan.

His comments came at the same time Republican Clyde Burmaster was questioning the potential impact of a publicly financed, student-run restaurant on private eateries in the city. Former county lawmaker Vince Sandanato, another member of the GOP, strongly endorsed moving the project to the old Wendt’s dairy site in LaSalle.

Yes, Ceretto and Sandanato finally did get on board and co-sponsor a resolution to advance the project in the legislature. They also did so on Nov. 3, 2010 — one day after Ceretto was elected to the state assembly.

We understand Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to extend olive branches to state Republicans, but let’s not go overboard.

A lot of individuals worked hard to bring this project to life where it belongs — in the heart of Niagara Falls.

Tops on the list is Dr. James Klyczek, NCCC president, who wisely considered all options in other parts of the county, but held firm — no doubt amid serious pressure from legislators who felt otherwise — to the Falls location.

Of course, the people at the state-run USA Niagara Development Corp., including President Chris Schoeplin, his staff and members of his board of directors deserve praise too for having worked for many months to put the project details into place. Mayor Paul Dyster and members of the city council and staff played key roles as well. And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recognize former mall owner, David Cordish, whose gift gave the project real life.

Again, with all due respect Mr. Duffy, giving credit to Maziarz, Ceretto and others like them in the county who wavered on the idea of a Falls-based culinary center is like crediting them for casino money should it arrive a week or two before the upcoming election.

Sure, the city welcomes the help, but can’t help but question the motive.