State Sen. George D. Maziarz and Assemblyman John D. Ceretto both expressed disappointment Monday in Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster's political comments regarding efforts to ensure the success of the Nik Wallenda walk, which will occur on Friday, June 15. Maziarz and Ceretto, with their colleagues State Sen. Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, sponsored and passed legislation in June 2011 to allow this walk to transpire and worked with their partners in Canadian government to ensure this international event takes place.
"The comments made this morning were very unfortunate," Maziarz said. "For over a year now, planning for this event has been taking place, and all appropriate agencies have been invited to attend those meetings; it was their decision should they not come. Throughout this process, the City (of Niagara Falls) police and fire have been very cooperative and have done a fantastic job with what little time they have had for the actual date. Despite these comments, we will continue working with the agencies as our sole focus has been and will continue to be the success of this event."
"For weeks now, local stakeholders have met and have exciting things to share" Ceretto said. "NTCC (Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp.) has an exciting marketing campaign that is kicking into gear; the plans for the 'side show' on Old Falls Street are exciting. Solutions are being found to logistical challenges. Dating back to last August, we've had several meetings with State Parks, State Police, local fire and police, local officials and stakeholders. This is an opportunity for our area, now is the time to work together. Lets show the world that Niagara Falls, New York, is a great place to visit, to live and to invest in."
Maziarz and Ceretto passed the legislation allowing Wallenda to traverse the gorge in June of 2011. That legislation was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September of 2011. In February of this year, the Niagara Parks Commission in Niagara Falls, Ontario, passed a resolution granting permission on the Canadian side.
Maziarz and Ceretto both hosted an initial stakeholder's presentation on Aug. 3, 2011, at the Top of the Falls Restaurant on Goat Island. Attending were Wallenda's management team, State Parks officials, State Police officials, city fire and police officials, and Niagara Falls Council Chairman Sam Fruscione.
On March 23, Maziarz and Ceretto held a marketing task force meeting, leading a panel including John Percy from NTCC; Winston Simone (Wallenda's manager); Mark Thomas from State Parks; and Henry Sloma, then the acting chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and current chairman of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.
Most recently, a letter was sent to Mayor Dyster encouraging cooperation and seeking to re-open the Holiday Market during the practice sessions.
Maziarz and Ceretto are in Albany fulfilling their duties as state legislators. Representatives from their offices attended the meeting Monday morning, which was hosted by the NTCC, and involved preparations for the Wallenda walk.