NIAGARA FALLS – Democratic State Senate candidate Amy Hope Witryol attacked State Sen. George D. Maziarz Friday over his record on downtown Niagara Falls economic development projects.
For the first time, all of Niagara Falls is joining the 62nd Senate District, represented by Maziarz, this year. But the Newfane Republican has long been a key player in Falls development deals, and Howard Milstein, whose Niagara Falls Redevelopment owns extensive property in the city, is Maziarz’ largest campaign contributor when one counts corporate contributions and those from Milstein relatives and employees.
Standing in front of the new Niagara County Community College Culinary Institute in the former Rainbow Centre Mall, Witryol told reporters that Maziarz had opposed building the project in the Falls.
Maziarz said, “I wanted everyone to have a fair shot at it, Lewiston, Lockport, North Tonawanda, Niagara Falls. … When David Cordish donated the property [at the mall], that closed the deal. It was going to Niagara Falls. I was on board 1,000 percent after that.”
“One example of how the pay-to-play system in Albany costs us jobs and taxes is Sen. Maziarz’s support of putting Off-Track Betting in downtown Niagara Falls, in the heart of our tourism district,” Witryol said.
“Maziarz wanted his proposed OTB operated by one of his largest donors [Tuscarora Indian businessman Smokin’ Joe Anderson]. That plan would also depress rather than improve surrounding land values to the benefit of [Milstein], a New York billionaire real estate developer, who is Maziarz’s single largest donor, and whose subsidiaries seek to acquire land as cheaply as possible,” Witryol said.
Maziarz said the OTB project wouldn’t have helped Milstein, and he said the project didn’t progress because of doubts about its appropriateness from Empire State Development and Mayor Paul A. Dyster.
“It had nothing to do with Milstein and NFR, and it wasn’t promoted by me,” Maziarz said.
Witryol also sought to blame Maziarz for for the failure to settle the battle between the state and the Seneca Nation over casino revenue, which has blown a $58 million hole in Niagara Falls’ budget.
“When the state and the Senecas had reached an agreement to resolve the impasse [in November 2011], Maziarz sought to exploit it with a pre-announcement. Both sides apparently thought the other had leaked the agreement, and it collapsed. As a result, more jobs in Niagara Falls are on the chopping block today,” Witryol said.
“She’s totally making this up. I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Maziarz said. He blamed the collapse of the deal on internal Seneca politics.