Dyster names panel to sniff out source of stench in the Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on new development in Niagara Falls, there is a stench hanging over the Cataract City that is becoming an embarrassment. Mayor Paul Dyster now says he is going to do something about, and he has already started.

Signs of progress are everywhere in Niagara Falls–hundreds of new hotel rooms under construction, or on the drawing board, including a new Courtyard by Marriott two blocks from the sewage plant.

Tourism is up, but what you can’t see is the foul odor that seems to be emanating from the wastewater treatment plant. Lifelong Niagara Falls resident Patrick Cummings said the pungent odor has been a problem for years, but lately, it is even more noticeable.

“It has gotten worse in the past couple of weeks–definitely got worse,” and Cummings suspects something is happening at the plant to cause the change.

Mark’s Food Market, at the corner of 19th and Welch is nearly a mile from the plant, and customer Marty Szarban said the odor is worse than ever, and worries the stench could chase visitors away.

“Because it is located downtown, near the tourist section. So you get people from around the world and other parts of the country that have to deal and smell that, too, and it does not give us a good reputation.”

But workers at the wastewater treatment plant say they are not so sure the odor is coming from the plant. While the stench hung over Buffalo Avenue, noticed by many passersby, staff inside said they didn’t notice anything.

That could be one of the first questions Mayor Dyster’s task force is going to have to figure out. Dyster named 4 local civic leaders to a Downtown Odor Control Task Force, to try to find a resolution to the odor.

Named to the panel: Frank Strangio, owner of the new Marriott hotel; Michael Williamson, a director for the USA Niagara Development Corporation, and pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church, which is across the street from the plant; Gretchen Leffler, a member of the Niagara Falls Water Board, which owns and operates the Wastewater Treatment Plant; and Andrew Touma, Chairman of the Niagara Falls City Council.

Dyster has one more slot on the task force he would like to fill, “The first question would be, is the strong odor that people are detecting, from time to time, coming from the wastewater treatment plant? That would be, I guess the first question, and the second question–if so, what is causing it?”

The mayor is moving quickly. Leffler took a tour of the wastewater treatment plant Monday, and the task force is expected to start working on the odor issue immediately.

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