Sunday, October 26, 2014

1 DAY - THINK ABOUT IT

In late 2003, I wrote a series of articles about Fort Erie for the Downtowner, a magazine that is now called Niagara Life. At the time, I reported that Fort Erie was on the cusp of greatness, that the planets seemed to have aligned to give Fort Erie a bright future. 

One article centered around the great shoreline and the efforts to keep as much of it public and environmentally sound. Marcy's Woods had just been purchased by a developer and many people were worried that he would develop the property, thus putting important flora and fauna at risk. There was even a demonstration that went all the way to Queen's Park.  As it turns out, the developer kept his promise to keep the property in its pristine condition as planned by its namesake owner, Dr. William Marcy. The DiCienzo Family has turned Marcy's Woods into a model for careful stewardship of the land.

Attention was then turned to Crystal Beach where there was but a rather small portion of the beach that was still public. The owners of the Crystal Beach Tennis and Yacht Club not only retained the beach from the former amusement park, they placed huge boulders on the sand to deter anyone from even walking the shores. This caused a lot of upset in the community and it widened the divide between the locals and the summer residents. Two years earlier, the town had purchased the former Bay Beach Properties from the Rebstock Family which gave people new hope that there would be a great beach and parkland for the public's use.  Derelict buildings were torn down and the area cleaned up. A parking lot was placed on the south side of the properties as a temporary measure until funds could be gathered to complete a redesigned park.

So, that was where my article ended. It was on a hopeful note for the future of Fort Erie, especially its shoreline.  There were other articles too, all praising Fort Erie's uniqueness and diversity.  

What happened to that hope?

It seems to me that certain elected and non-elected officials of this town lost sight of what was best for the people and favoured the plans of a couple of developers who were only in it for the money and not to better the community. The village of Crystal Beach had already suffered through the development of the former amusement park lands into a gated community. After all, even the town planner didn't live in Fort Erie and the developers certainly didn't either.

Thus began the long road to where we are today.  The pandering to certain developers went into high gear when Doug Martin was elected mayor in 2006. The town became race track centric and everything else seemed to be forced into the background.  Developers bragged that they could get "anything they wanted" in Fort Erie. (A perfect example of this is the development at the end of Hibbard Street near Prospect Point Road where the well-known developer had an "oopsie" and failed to provide enough space for a proper driveway.) How did these things happen?  

One answer is Lack of Leadership. That's the simple one.  The other is far more complex and much darker.

The people elected four councillors in 2010 with the hopes that some of these problems would be addressed and corrected.  Doug Martin and some town staff did everything in their power to obstruct the effort to bring fairness back to town hall.

Fortunately Doug Martin will soon be gone, but he leaves a legacy of nastiness, unfairness and possible wrongdoing behind. He has also anointed his successor and a cadre of candidates that will continue his legacy.

Fort Erie could still have a bright future. Vote for the people who stood up for you - not against you.



6 comments:

  1. view_from_the_beachOctober 26, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Despite a campaign of terror waged by a handful of rather challenged individuals I'm confident of success for the people of Fort Erie and it's economy.
    As if to punctuate their collective insolence, a small group, with big mouths, as lead by mayor doug martin, made it known just how spiteful they truly are when they expressed support for an incompetent developer's decision to bring suit against a Council that allowed said developer EVERY CHANCE to succeed.
    Once such despicable, deceiving, disloyalty was shown the light of day, a new awaking was had by an entire community!
    People are ANGRY.. and their going to vote!!!

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  2. The mayor's first allegiance is to be for the constituents of Fort Erie, not a developer. Didn't town lawyers say not to make a comment regarding the lawsuit that was issued ONE week before the election? He truly showed his hand by condoning a law suit against the town, us taxpayers both Canadian and American.

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  3. Great observation about Marcys Woods. So far a fine example of what can be done by just leaving the site more or less as it is. Waverly beach is another place to look when considering a model for a lakefront park. Tha large trees are long gone from the Bay Beach lands but they can be planted, and there are other options in the meantime. Thank godly the slime doesent come in on the waterfront as it does at Waverly or the Bay Beach waterfront would be unused but in its own way saved as no one is going to want to live near a beach that smells like a cesspool on a hot day, development would likely be a non issue. Theres some sort of a sewage outfall near the Waverly area that makes that area especially prone to that problem. That is a real shame and in some parts of Canada illegal. The Marcy beach area is pretty clean. Cant believe that entire stretch of beach, dunes and forest sold for 2 or 3 mill$ while the powers to be hummed and hawed passed a 6 month no development symbolic piece of paper, and felt good about itself. Now look at what the money that is wasted could have bought for the legacy of the town. Lets hope the next council has a little more vision when it comes to protecting what they have and what is available to be purchased and protected for the future generations of the people who choose to call this town home.

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  4. Letter to the editor (not published)
    I am writing in regards to the comments made by Mayor Martin concerning the lawsuit filed by the Molinaro Group against the Town of Fort Erie and four of its councillors. Martin is quoted as saying the lawsuit comes as no surprise and that he was expecting it. He even goes further and says that in his opinion, the developers have the “right” to recoup costs. This is absolutely disgusting and outrageous! Who is the mayor working for, the people of Fort Erie who he is supposed to be representing, or the developers? Unfortunately the answer to that question is perfectly and painfully clear.
    Let’s look at the facts. Bay Beach is public parkland. The Crystal Beach Neighbourhood Plan recommended that it be kept as a beach for the people of the town, who rightly own it. Many people across the town are not in favour of giving the land away to developers. This was clearly obvious in the election of 2010. Councillors who were against this project were voted in by heavy majorities. Martin himself barely scraped in by five votes. This alone shows the huge lack of support for this project. Yet, despite this, Martin pushed the project forward and did nothing to protect the town or the councillors against lawsuits. If he anticipated problems in the future, why didn’t he put something in place to protect the people of Fort Erie?
    Another important fact is that the four councillors who were against this project were merely representing the wishes of the residents who voted them in. They were not acting maliciously. They were and still are doing what political representatives in a democracy are supposed to do. Stand up for the people they are representing.
    An additional disturbing fact is that Martin, Passero and Schular voted against granting the Molinaros an eight month extension. Why? And furthermore, why aren’t the Molinaros suing them?
    Moreover, it was the Molinaro Group itself that pulled out of the plan. They were not able to sell enough units to go on to the next step. If the development was so desirable and necessary in our community, why didn’t the units sell?
    The main reason so many people are against this development is because it is on town-owned public parkland, not because they are against development. This land cost the taxpayers 2 million dollars to purchase. And Mayor Martin wanted to give it away. Where is the sense in that? This project should never have been pursued in the first place. It has done nothing but divide the town, cost us money and give Fort Erie a bad name. Thanks Mayor Martin.
    How much of the taxpayers money has been spent on this ill-fated project? How much more taxpayer’s money will now have to be spent defending this lawsuit? Instead of helping Fort Erie get out of its economic slump, Mayor Martin and his followers have put us in a horrible economic position and ruined our reputation. It is crucially important that voters come out this Monday to stand up for our democratic rights. The town of Fort Erie belongs to the people who live here, not the developers.
    Our new mayor will have his work cut out for him. But at least Martin will be gone. He will go down in history as Fort Erie’s worst and most divisive mayor.

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    Replies
    1. Well said Brigitte Bonner!!

      .........of course it wasn't published. Rarely has common sense been allowed to prevail in the mainstream media once Dirty Doug's nephew was running the local rag. Communist Russia had the same level of control of the press that we have "enjoyed" here.

      It should've been called Doug's Propaganda Times or the Fort Erie Pravda.

      Vote wisely tomorrow good people or return to the old school politics of back room deals that have cost us all so much.. The old boys club / C of C have ran things here for decades and one glance will tell you they have done a very VERY poor job for the Town (but not their own wallets).

      Good luck to THE FOUR tomorrow. Your hard work and sacrifice well above and beyond what anyone could ask, has not gone unnoticed and your dedication to the betterment of the town through all you have endured from our resident lowlifes, is worthy of an epic novel and movie.

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  5. I predict that the Moly lawsuit will be withdrawn no matter which way tomorrow's election goes. If the mayor's faves get elected the developers will have achieved the extension they had requested and carry on. If the four get in, the lawsuit will be withdrawn because they couldn't win it anyway because there was never a four vote against any aspect of it.
    The taxpayers will however get hit with lawyers fees when the four win the malicious lawsuit brought about by our mayor. Again there never was a four vote to pay off Heather Salter. The four in the transcripts to pay her out the door was Pessaro and Marin with Steckley and Hill hoping to just see the last of her. Lubberts and Collard just wanted to let her try to get an harassment claim to stick, I think. Keep in mind that the four have had to pay two sets of lawyers because they did vote differently. When the four are found innocent, YES the town, us taxpayers will reimburse them, as it should be. Again thanks mayor, it shows just how much you care about your constituents, doesn't it.

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