Train station opening nears as operation and maintenance questions remain unanswered

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When officials broke ground for the new $44 million train station, not one of them spoke about the cost to maintain it.

Over the past seven years the Reporter has posed a series of inconvenient questions regarding the funding, construction and operation of the Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center…the train station. Recently the Niagara Gazette wrote a story that the train station is opening in May and has yet to determine its operating and maintenance budget.

That fact of the budget’s non-existence didn’t surprise the Reporter. We’ve been writing about it across the span of more than fifteen articles. With that in mind we suggest some very pertinent and very inconvenient questions that the Dyster administration should have answered long ago but failed to do so. We’re asking those questions here once again, and we humbly suggest that other media outlets also pose these questions of the Dyster administration.

How is it be possible that with the opening of the train station just several months away the city has yet to determine what it will cost the to operate and maintain the facility?

We understand the city has yet to determine how many  employees will be needed to clean, maintain and operate the facility. Doesn’t that mean that you are currently clueless as to whether new or additional employees are going to be needed to take care of the building?

The “pending” contract with Amtrak has been pending throughout all of the many years of train station planning, design and construction. How is it possible that the contract has yet to be finalized?

What other tenants are expected to occupy the building? Will Homeland Security or Border Patrol be among those tenants? Will there be retail as once promised?

The Underground Railroad Interpretive Center was supposed to have opened its doors five years ago. What happened? What is the status of the lawsuit against the city by the Resatarits company? What has it cost the taxpayers to fight that lawsuit? Why was the project manager unceremoniously and mysteriously removed from the job four years ago? Where is the Underground Railroad Commission’s $2.45 million in casino funds? Have those funds been used in the train station project? Why hasn’t the Underground Railroad Commission met in years? Does it even exist anymore and who sits on the commission today?

Will a private operator be contracted to run the train station?

Do the city anticipate federal or state funding to defray operating expenses and if so at what percentage of the annual operating budget and at what total amount?

Will the train station operation translate into raises, stipends or overtime that will add to the current salaries and pay of anyone on the city payroll?

Will the opening of the train station cause new or additional city positions at any level such as executive, management, labor, police, fire, engineering , legal etc. to be added to the city budget?

What is the projected ridership of the train, coming and going, across the first 12 months of operation?

When the train station is opened will the city’s relationship with Wendel come to an end? If not, why is the City-Wendel relationship expected to continue?

As of today how much has Wendel received in total dollars – federal, state, city – for their work on the project? How much will they have received – federal, state, city – by the conclusion of the project?

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  3. As for Amtrak, they have no choice but to re-locate, customs has made it clear that they will be doing immigration checks here. Amtrak is just dragging out the process of finalizing the contract to get the best deal for themselves, just like any other business would. Expect an agreement at the last minute, or later, because that’s the way they operate. A quick call to their customer service line is all it takes to learn that they are already planning for the switch in June. Why such lazy reporting here? Lots of rumor and speculation, short on facts.

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