NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WGRZ)- A month after Niagara Falls was put in the global spotlight by Nik Wallenda's prime-time tightrope walk, the walk into history is once again making headlines around the continent. This time, however, the headlines are not so glowing.
Last week, Attorneys for Nik Wallenda said that the City of Niagara Falls, New York had billed him for $25,000 to cover police and fire overtime costs. Mayor Paul Dyster says he is merely looking out for City taxpayers. "I can't just gift tax dollars to someone because I like him or think he's doing something positive." Dyster says that it was clearly spelled out in the legislation agreed upon in Albany that any reasonable expense incurred would be paid by the organizers of the event.
Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane), who orchestrated the legislation and much of the coordination said that there was no specific agreement between the City of Niagara Falls and Wallenda. He said that Mayor Dyster was being short-sighted, specifically because Wallenda has already said he would like to build an attraction at the Falls, either on the U.S. or Canadian side. Maziarz said "We want Nik Wallenda to be a permanent part of Niagara Falls, New York, not Ontario. I don't think this helps our cause."
As this spat is going on, the mayor on the other side of the border, Jim Diodati has not only forgiven about $10,000 in debt, but he is also considering putting in a Nik Wallenda statue at Table Rock, where the walk wrapped up. "Our philosophy over here is brush the teeth you want to keep. We want tourism to be strong, we want tourism to be healthy, it's our General Motors."