Cuomo Taps Howard Milstein As Next Thruway Authority Chair

10:52 AM, Jun 2, 2011   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - A New York City multi-billionaire, who made hefty contributions to the election campaign of Andrew Cuomo, is the Governor's choice to become the next chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority.

Howard Milstein also has strong ties to Western New York.

Milstein, a New York City real estate mogul, is also one of the largest private land owners in Niagara Falls.

"He's very tough minded, he's very energetic, and those are probably two qualities that will serve him well at the Thruway Authority," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Dyster also figures having someone chairing the Thruway Authority who is at least familiar with Western New York can't hurt either.

"The fact that you've got someone who's so heavily invested here in Niagara Falls that obviously has such a strong relationship with the Governor that the Governor nominated him for this important position, has to be a positive," Dyster told WGRZ-TV.

Milstein's company owns 441 parcels, encompassing 85 acres, mostly on the Cataract City's east side.

Most of it also remains vacant, just as it's been since Milstein was given the exclusive development rights to it some 14 years ago.

This has at times put city leaders and Milstein at loggerheads.

Still, Dyster had only positive things to say about Milstein's appointment.

"I think Mr. Milstein has a set of credentials that go well beyond his involvement here in Niagara Falls. He's a Harvard law school graduate, he's a prominent banker, he's a prominent philanthropist, and he's been very active in New York State politics," Dyster noted.

Milstein's appointment will have to be confirmed by the New York State Senate.  Republican Mark Grisanti represents Niagara Falls.

"I wouldn't have a problem with his nomination at this point," Grisanti told 2 On Your Side, despite the fact Milstein's plans for grand development in the district he now represents have come nowhere near fruition.

"I can understand some of the people's concerns, but looking at the totality of item... they have been maintaining these sites and pay close to one million dollars in taxes to the city of Niagara Falls. His company, Niagara Falls Redevelopment, from what I've seen is actively pursuing development."

Grisanti also said New York State could do much more to help Milstein and other developers, including regulatory reforms which he hopes the legislature will pass this year.

"They (Niagara Falls Redevelopment) say there's a lot of red tape at the local level on certain projects and on certain things and it kind of scares some developers away. And I can kind of see that, being here at the State Capitol for four months now and seeing what happens," Grisanti said.

NYS Senator George Maziarz (R-Wilson), who represents much of Niagara County also says he will likely vote to confirm Milstein.

"The Senate doesn't normally stand in the way of gubernatorial appointments," Maziarz said.

A spokesman for Milstein told Two On Your Side that Milstein would have no comment on his pending appointment until he is confirmed.

The job of Thruway Authority Chairman is an unpaid position.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bob Mancuso.

Click here to read Dave McKinley's latest blog.

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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