When the Mayor of Niagara Falls, Paul Dyster, and USA Niagara president, Chris Schoepflin got together last year with Idaho developer Mark Rivers to cut a deal for a Holiday Market, Mr. Rivers told the two government officials his research showed 250,000 people would attend it.
A mostly empty Holiday Market =
| A mostly empty Rainbow Ramp
The Mayor and Mr. Schoepflin were believers.
Together they calculated (and put it in the contract with Mr. Rivers) that, based on 250,000 people attending, 10,000 cars would park in the city’s downtown parking lots at $5 per car.
Right in the contract – to show naysayers perhaps what a good idea it is to give an out of town developer nobody ever heard of $450,000 of state and city money – was an estimate of $50,000 in extra parking revenue.
In a normally slow time of year for downtown Niagara Falls, the city would pick up an extra $50,000 thanks to the Holiday Market.
The Holiday Market ran from November 25 to December 31, 2011 and the developer spent all of $450,000 in public money and more on the event.
The Niagara Falls Reporter filed a FOIL request for city parking revenues from November 1 to December 31 for 2011.
We also made the same a FOIL request for the two prior years.
In 2009 – when there was no Holiday Market - the city took in $20,936 in paid parking for Nov. and Dec for all four downtown parking lots.
In 2010, the city took in $8,498.
In 2011, the year of the Holiday Market, the city took in $16,674 in total parking In other words, the city took in $8,000 more in parking in 2011 than it did in 2010, but $4,000 less than it did in 2009.
In either event, there was nowhere near $50,000 in parking revenue.
Of course we did not need parking records to know people did not pay to park to visit the shabby, undersized market. We counted attendance every day. By our estimate it was not 250,000 people but 25,000 people who actually came to that grotesque monstrousity of public waste and extravagance.
Most days the Market had a handful of people.
Some say if you can’t say something nice about someone, then shut up, sit down and put a supercilious smile upon your face. Otherwise you’ll scare off good developers like Mark Rivers from ever coming our way.
The Holiday Marker was a rip roaring failure.
And as it says on our masthead: The Truth is always fair.
(Developer Mark Rivers hung up the phone when we contacted him, then did not return a subsequent call.)