Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Niagara Heritage Proposal to Remove the Robert Moses Parkway Meets and Exceeds the Niagara River Greenway Plan - Guiding Principals- 2007


C. Principles for the Niagara River Greenway

The principles for the Niagara River Greenway represent the general values that will guide greenway planning into the future. These basic principles have been presented and discussed in various venues,and have received broad general support on the part of the wide range of groups that have been actively involved in the development of the Greenway Plan.

The focus of these principles is to facilitate the implementation of the vision established for the Niagara River Greenway. They promote high-quality, ecologically sensitive and sustainable activities and development. All actions within the Niagara River Greenway should be evaluated against these principles, not only to assess their validity, but to help improve the quality of efforts that move forward.


The guiding principles for the development of the Niagara River Greenway are:
Excellence – Existing Greenway resources are globally significant and Greenway projects will meet world class standards.

Sustainability – The Greenway will be designed to promote ecological, economic and physical sustainability for long-term viability and effectiveness.

Accessibility – The Greenway will be designed to provide and increase physical and visual access to and from the waterfront and related resources for a full range of users(youth, seniors, persons with special needs).

Ecological Integrity – The Greenway will be focused on maintaining and improving the health, vitality and integrity of natural resources and wildlife habitats. Emphasis will be placed on restoring and retaining ecologically significant areas and natural landscapes,both in and over the water and upland.

Public Well-Being – The Greenway will be designed to achieve and promote physical and emotional wellness through the experience that it offers to the public. Availability of
both land- and water-based recreational facilities, and access to both active and passive recreational opportunities should be considered in the development of Greenway assets.

Connectivity – The Greenway will increase connectivity and access (trails, pathways,parks, water access), promote the continuity of open space and habitats, and provide for connections to related corridors and resources across the region,including connections across the international border with Canada.

– The Greenway will be designed to encourage the restoration of ecological resources, the appropriate reuse of brownfields, and the revitalization of existing urban centers along the corridor.

Authenticity – The Greenway will establish a clear sense of “place” and identity that reflects the traditional spirit and heritage of the area. Projects and activities should have a connection to the character, culture and/or history of their location.

Celebration – The Greenway will be designed to celebrate local history, diversity,cultural resources, and the natural and built environments, and will seek to share this diverse tradition with local residents and visitors to the region. Projects that support education, interpretation are encouraged, as are events and activities that help build social interaction and shared experiences.

Partnerships – The focus of the Greenway will revolve around cooperation and reciprocal compromise. Relationships and partnerships must be formed and strengthened to achieve coordination and integration of efforts throughout the Greenway.

Community Based – Greenway planning will reflect the preferences and plans of the local communities, while respecting other stated goals and the communal vision of the Niagara River Greenway.

The above principles present a guide to actions and development within the Niagara River Greenway over the long-term, so that the cumulative effect of projects is to move toward achieving the shared vision for the Niagara River Greenway. The principles are applicable to municipalities without waterfront lands as well as those fronting the River.

They promote access and connections, including trail linkages. They support high quality, ecologically-sound projects throughout the region. They are fundamental enough to remain relevant over changing circumstances, providing consistency with flexibility.

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Reprentative Slaughter Ignores Broad Coalition Supporting Robert Moses Parkway Removal

The Niagara Heritage Partnership Letter is retyped below.

Oct. 25, 2007
Hon. Louise M. Slaughter
28th District Local Office
1910 Pine Ave.
Niagara Falls, NY 14301

Dear Representative Slaughter

A few years ago, the membership of Niagara Heritage Partnership was very pleased tolearn about the funding you'd made available for trail construction from the Village of Lewiston, up the Niagara escarpment, and south along the gorge rim. We'd been advocating for hiking and bicycling trails along the Niagara gorge rim since 1997.

At the same time we recognized the funds had the potential to be used in an inappropriate way that the legislation couldn't have forseen, which would also run counter to our central advocacy--the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway between Niagara Falls and Lewiston and the restoration of natural landscapes. Unfortunately, this potentially inappropriate and counter-productive use of the funding now seems on the verge of happening.

The Town of Lewiston has announced its intention to use the funding (with money from the Niagara Greenway initiative to create a trail that assumes the parkway will remain in place, which is far from certain. The town board has already voted to move ahead with contractor study. In our estimation, this is hurrying to build something before final decisions and related regional plans are complete.

A trail with the parkway retained will require multiple overpasses for walkers and bicyclists, a convoluted inelegance of planning that is likely to absorb a half to one million or more extra dollars which will result in a trail that expects eco-toruists to hike and bicycle alongside a commuter route. Spending millions to create this "overpass" trail would then become its own rationale for parkway retention, a position Lewiston officials are on record as favoring.

Town supervisor Fred Newlin and Lewiston Village Mayor Richard Soluri are both members of the "Parkway Preservation Committee." Soluri is also a Niagara River Greenway Commissioner whose public actions in that capacity were sufficiently partisan to cause twenty-two citizens from across Niagara Count to sign a letter to the New York State Ethics Commission requesting an investigation into his behavior. But their actions need not be purposefully manipulative to serve the function of influencing a decision to keep the parkway in place.

With the parkway gone, commonsense would guide the trail segment on the steep escarpment slope into a graceful configuration of switchbacks with several or more level rest areas, perhaps with benches, which would make the trails far more friendly to family cyclists and casual hikers.

We urge you to oppose this precipitous action of the Town of Lewiston to inappropriately utilize funding in this fashion, which ignores a broad coalition of grassroots support for parkway removal. Further, we'd welcome the opportunity to meet with your to provide additional information about our advocacy. We believe our parkway removal proposal to be compatible with the concept of a genuine greenway, existing regional revitalization plans, and the goals o the National Heritage Area. Paul Dyster, Niagara River Greenway Commissioner, chairman of the Citizens' Advisory Committee, would be welcome at such a meeting.

Thank-you for your consideration.
Bob Baxter, Conservation Chair
Niagara Heritage Partnership

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Case Studies in Urban Road Removal - The Benefits and Impacts

Case Studies in Urban Road Removal - The Benefits and Impacts
TA Switalski et al

Lessons Learned

Social and Environmental Benefits

1. Reduction in greenhouse gas
2. Spillover traffic’s absorbed
3. Traffic finds alternate routes and travelers choose the most convenient mode or travel at different times or different locations
4. Removal is most effective when it is one element of a comprehensive, clearly articulated civic vision for enhanced quality of life, sustainability, and economic development that leverages the opportunity made available by removal
5. Removal for all its benefits is a means to advance greater goals and objectives:
a. In Niagara Falls – for example—Road Removal would support
i. North Star Project and
ii. Olmsted’s Vision for Niagara
iii. Economic revitalization and growth
iv. Quality of life
v. New jobs and business
vi. Tourism destination initiatives
6. If public is forewarned, traffic is adequately redistributed.

Portland, Oregon
7. Removal in Portland, Oregon was a catalyst in the redevelopment of the downtown waterfront as it opened up access to the River and 309 acres
8. Development around the waterfront amenities had positive impacts within the city as a whole:
a. Provided public good and improved quality of life
b. Financial benefits:
i. Property values tripled
ii. Growth in this area outpaced growth in the city as a whole by 7%
c. Crime reduction in Portland declined by 65% in the waterfront area and declined 16% in the city as a whole.
i. Attributing factors:
1. New visibility
2. Increase in pedestrian eyes on the street

San Francisco, CA
9. Crime reduction in San Francisco occurred when the street transformed to one of stylish shops, restaurants, and galleries.
10. Removal provided a range of benefits without substantial negative impacts for commuters.
11. In the years following removal:
a. New neighborhoods were established
b. Major new civic amenities and tourist attractions were opened and
c. The existing tourist destinations remained major destinations
d. Merchants said they didn’t lose their core customers despite the new competition and the removal of the road 9 years ago.
e. Tourism grew impressively in the years following removal and reclamation
i. In 2006, visitors to San Francisco spent $7.6 billion – the highest in the city’s history
f. Removal did not negatively impact the economics of nearby neighborhoods
g. The removal for the area and the city as a whole was positive.

Boston, MA
12. Benefits are aesthetic and commercial
a. If downtown is a more pleasant destination people linger longer and spend more money
13. The value of their commercial properties near their greenway increased by $2.3 billion, up 79%
14. In 2006, the Boston removal project attracted an unprecedented level of private investment in new development downtown
a. $5.3 billion worth in projects completed or underway within a 5 minute walk
b. An estimated generation of nearly 36,000 new jobs

Seoul, Korea
15. Road removal and stream restoration restored to a 3.6 mile linear park
16. 15 months after opening, they had 90,000 visitors of which 30% came from outside the area
17. The restored water and open space access enhanced recreational amenities widely viewed as having improved the quality of life of center city residents, workers and visitors
18. Restoration was part of a much larger development strategy with local and global components
a. Local level – project rationalization had to do with revitalization of historic downtown which lost much of its market share as the city’s economic center shifted
b. Global level – removal and restoration of the landscape has been described by officials as rebranding or repositioning of Seoul’s image internationally
i. A meaningful, symbolic gesture for a 21st century city
19. It projected long-term economic benefits of
a. Between $8.5 - $ 25 billion (US) and
b. 113,000 new jobs
20. The Seoul project illustrates the tangible economic and environmental benefits that can flow from urban design that is richly symbolic and driven in large part by quality of life perceptions.

Trenton, NJ
21. Removal was undertaken to
a. Promote redevelopment downtown
b. Improve safety
c. Remove a barrier to the city’s waterfront

Vancouver, Canada
22. Removal achieved results with a progressive “Living-First” strategy and subsequent plans and policies that emphasized a shift away from automobiles as a dominant form of transportation

Toronto, Canada
23. Removal Benefit Strategies
a. To beautify the city
b. To improve a sense of place in neighborhoods
c. To maximize the benefits of waterfront revitalization efforts

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

24. The estimated cost to rebuild an aging freeway was $100 million
25. The road elimination came at a much lower financial cost of $25 million ($20 million was paid for with federal funds)

Chattanooga, TN

Reasons why they removed the Riverfront Parkway:
26. In late 1960’s its economy’s manufacturing base contracted, eliminating thousands of jobs
27. Its air was declared the most polluted in the nation
28. The construction and configuration of roads intended to move traffic hurt the downtown business environment and hastened the decline of a once vibrant city center.
29. Their parkway no longer had a purpose; its physical location blocked the city from its waterfront
30. Their parkway was a far larger piece of infrastructure than the city needed
31. Removal benefits:
a. Pedestrian connection to the River waterfront

The Benefits of Parks and Open Space – National Park Service
32. Increased value in neighboring residential properties
33. Similar increase benefit on commercial property
34. Important quality of life factor for corporations choosing where to locate facilities
35. Important for the well-educated in choosing where to live
36. Provides substantial environmental benefits
a. Trees reduce air and water pollution
b. Trees keep cities cooler and
c. Trees are an effective and less expensive way to manage storm water runoff

Open space - Social and Community Development Benefits
37. Make inner city more livable
38. Provides places where low-income neighborhoods feel a sense of community
39. Access to public parks and facilities strongly linked to reductions in crime
40. Contact with the natural world improves physical and psychological health
a. Such settings are associated with enhanced mental alertness, attention and cognitive performance
b. A 10% increase in greenspace was found to decrease a person’s health complaints in an amount equal to a 5-year reduction in a person’s age

Open Space – Economic Benefits
41. People are willing to pay more for property located close to open space
a. This translates into city revenue – in some cases the additional taxes are enough to pay the annual debt charges on bonds used to finance acquisition and development of the open space
b. In one study, a greenbelt added 5.4 million to the total property values of 1 neighborhood. That generated $ 500,00/year in additional property taxes—enough to pay for a $1.5 million purchase price in 3 years

Commercial Effects of Open Space

42. Atlanta – Property values rose from $2 per square foot to $150 per square foot

Economic Revitalization Effects of Open Space
43. Boeing, chose Chicago over Dallas and Denver because of the city’s quality of life, its downtown, and urban life
44. In using greenspace to revitalize, Dallas emulated Portland, Oregon—a city with a reputation as one of the most livable
45. Companies like Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Hyundai were drawn to the forests, orchards, and creeks on Portland’s outskirt urban area

46. The real estate industry calls quality of life a litmus test for determining the strength of the real estate investment market
47. If people want to live in a place, companies, stores, hotels and apartments follow.

St. Louis, Missouri

48. In Missouri, the 2004 bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition launched an ambitious effort to revitalize St. Louis and the nearby region
49. Improving quality of life was a major goal with a central emphasis on keeping well-educated young people in the region
50. A cornerstone to their plan was their greenway, a 200 square mile area, stretching 40 miles
51. Their greenway traces the first stretch of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
52. Other city and region benefits
a. Tourism
b. Pollution abatement
c. Storm water run off control
d. Crime reduction
e. It created stable neighborhoods with a strong sense of community

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reviving Main Street, Niagara Falls, Guest Author - Bob Baxter



Comments made to the Main Street Business and Professionals Association, the LaSalle Business Association, and the Niagara Street Business Association at the Earl W. Brydges Public Library, Niagara Falls, New York, 31 May 2000.

The Niagara Heritage Partnership is a group of people who advocate the preservation and restoration of the region's natural environment, and who encourage socially responsible development. The question before us this evening is how waterfront revitalization, generally, and, more specifically, the restoration of the natural environment can relate to an improved business environment for the North End, Main Street and other communities. The Niagara Heritage Partnership believes the answer is clear and we'll attempt to elaborate on the proposal here that we first made in the fall of 1997.

In order for the North End business to grow and prosper, a new clientele needs to be developed. As you know, the era when Main Street U.S.A. provided most of the consumer goods to city residents is generally over, except for notable exceptions, superceded by discount stores and shopping malls in areas away from the cities. When we mention a new clientele, therefore, we refer to two populations: the millions of tourists who visit the city annually, just a mile or two away, and the brand new, emerging population of ecotourists who seek interaction with the natural environment when vacationing, even selecting vacation spots based on that single criterion. Main Street and other Niagara business communities can benefit from both groups.

These groups, incidentally, are infrequently separate and distinct from one another, but are intermingled. We speak about them separately because separate strategies might be required to market the business districts, at least in the initial stages. With that in mind, let us first look at what our proposal entails, how it fits in with the larger plans of our region, and what specifically will appeal to ecotourists.

The Niagara Heritage Partnership proposes removing the portion of the Robert Moses Parkway which runs along the top of the Niagara Gorge between Niagara Falls, New York, and Lewiston, New York, and that the gorgetop be restored with forest, and long-grass wildflower meadow. Hiking and bicycling trails would travel the entire 6.5 mile length. This restoration plan is consistent with the recent announcement by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation that Goat Island, the Niagara Reservation, will be restored to and maintained in a more natural condition. Such a restoration and trail creation proposal is also consistent regionally, providing the "middle link" for trails to be constructed along the upper river and the trail currently being completed from Lewiston, New York, to Youngstown, New York. This would provide nearly 20 miles of unparalleled hiking and bicycling trails attractive to ecotourists whose projected economic impact to our region is extremely high, based on evidence from other communities where such trails have been created. Our trails would be especially attractive because our region, most notably the Niagara River Corridor, is located in a major flyway for migrating birds, for which it has received international recognition. In December, 1996, groups such as the National Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservatory, the Canadian Nature Federation, and Bird Studies Canada gathered to designate the Niagara River and its shorelines as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area, vital to migrating birds and crucial to the long-term survival of North American bird populations. Parkway removal and natural restoration would add over 300 acres to this critical habitat.

The Falls at Niagara are the largest nontropical waterfalls on earth. Known the world over as an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon, they and surrounding wilderness areas are worthy of our protection. As P.M. Eckel, a Research Associate in Botany at the Buffalo Museum of Science, wrote in the Clintonia, Magazine of the Niagara Frontier Botanical Society:

Every shrub, tree or herb in the Niagara River Gorge and Falls area is of historic importance. The vegetation is the matrix within which human beings have discovered the soul-stirring spectacle of the Falls, and is an inextricable part of the Canadian and American national treasure that is the Niagara River. It is within the forest canopy that the Seneca interacted with the French, the British, the (Revolutionary) Americans and (Loyalist) Canadians; within its greenery, economic features developed according to the genius of the national temperaments of two nations, and the international struggle to keep the Niagara woodlands [that] took shape in mid to later 1800's. That struggle continues.

The Niagara Heritage Partnership is part of that struggle, and it is in this context that we offer our proposal for the restoration of the Niagara gorgetop.

Such a restoration will create a natural environment that will protect the existing rare plants, including remarkable cliff-face gorge cedars that began life in the 1600s, before Europeans spread over the continent, and including the old growth forest and its understory plants on the property at DeVeaux, recently acquired by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation to be a part of our state park system. Removing the four lanes of ugly concrete and replacing them with flowing long-grass wildflower meadows and forested areas would recreate a landscape lost to us centuries ago, as described by Father Hennepin in 1678: "almost all prairies mingled with some oaks and firs," he wrote.

This marvelous landscape would be intriguing to even the casual tourist, for whom it would be possible, in ordinary street clothing, to spend time walking some portion of the gorgetop hiking path. The long grasses would provide cover for groundnesting birds, the wildflowers would quickly attract native butterflies. For those visitors who seek out green vacations, and there are millions of them, including 54.1 million birders, our region would be especially appealing.

The Niagara Heritage proposal does eliminate the inappropriate vehicle traffic along the length of the gorgetop. It does not, however, limit vehicular access to the gorge at various points, from which it can still be enjoyed by people who are unable, unwilling, or simply too foot-weary to walk through this wonderful region of wilderness. Automobiles, viewmobiles, tour buses, and other people movers will still be able to travel the short distance from Main Street to an impressive gorge overlook at the Schoellkopf Geological Museum, surrounded by a mowed grass, landscaped park. The Aquarium of Niagara, a short distance from gorgetop, would be accessible by city street or by walkover from Schoellkopf, as it is now. Whirlpool State Park would be vehicle-accessible from Lewiston Road on a reconfigured Findlay Drive extension. Devil's Hole would remain accessible to vehicles from the Lewiston Road parking lot currently in use. The Power Vista would still provide parking and the gorge vista for which it was named. That adds up to four vehicle access points in four miles. If we were to count other gorge views accessible by vehicle or short walks, and we intend to, then the views from Terrapin Point, Cave of the Winds, the Maid of the Mist boat ride, the Observation Tower, Prospect Point, the Crow's Nest and other points along roads and bridges should add at least seven more, plus the dramatic view from ArtPark where the gorge ends almost abruptly, falling away to high river banks, which brings the total to twelve. We believe that is sufficient.

We reject the notion that part or all of the parkway should be kept because it functions as a transportation highway to, through, or around the city for residents living north of the falls. That rationale is not legitimate. There are other serviceable routes.

Removing the four lanes of the parkway that divides Whirlpool State Park from the old growth forest at DeVeaux would permit the forest to extend itself toward Whirlpool. The mature trees on the median there, spared by parkway construction 40 years ago, would become part of the forest again. The spreading forest would be contained by the edge of the Whirlpool mowed-grass park. Inside the park, visitors who are sightseeing and picnicking would enjoy the experience of being in a forest clearing, bounded on one side by the Niagara Gorge.

Devil's Hole State Park, the site where 50 to 60 soldiers were massacred by the Senecas, is dishonored by parkway lanes, reduced to a pathetic sliver of mowed grass and a parking lot. The 1992 Niagara Waterfront Master Plan proposes further disrespect: enlarging the parking lot and constructing a "turn-around," presumably for people movers. In contrast, The Niagara Heritage Partnership believes this ground should be enlarged by parkway removal, restored, and treated as a memorial to those who died in early conflict on the Niagara Frontier.

Most significant to the business community, with the parkway gone, running state-sanctioned people movers along the gorgetop, as proposed by the Master Plan, will no longer be a possibility. Now the creative ideas put forth in the Main Street business communities' 10-year plan begin to assume their full potential, one in particular. Now the opportunity for viewmobile or trackless trolleys, or double-decker, open-top tour vehicles following a Main Street route can be vigorously pursued. These would combine the urban and natural environment experience, providing historical, architectural, city tours with side trips to DeVeaux, Whirlpool, and Devil's Hole State Parks, the Castellani Art Museum, the Power Vista, and ArtPark. People here this evening can probably name focal points other than the Armory, the old Carnegie Library, the local history floor and gift shop of the Earl W. Brydges Library, the gallery at Now Graphics, the collection of Niagara volumes at the Book Corner, and the historic stone wall at Ontario and Main.

The idea of these city tours needs to move beyond the conceptual into a fleshed out, detailed plan--what routes should be traveled, what points of interest covered, what information provided--a plan complete enough to sell, a plan lacking only the hardware, the actual trains or buses. While individual van tours will be an important component of city tours, they would be no substitute for the long visit, high volume, multiple departure, regularly scheduled "viewmobile" variety tours.

Would tour guides have to learn about the treasures that Niagara has to share? Of course they would. Perhaps local historians and history teachers, the Urban Design Group, and the Inventory of Historic Resources could help with this. Do new businesses catering to visitors need to open? Of course they do. How many months lead time would be needed if we knew the parkway were to be gone and people movers were to begin making regular stops to drop off and pick up people at various spots on Main Street? Could sidewalk cafes and souvenir shops open or tables be set up? Could vendors, street musicians, and bands be invited? Photography galleries or studios? Street photographers? Additional dining accommodations? Can we imagine a bicycle rental business? Could concrete planters line the street, complementing the "flowering grates" idea of the 10-year plan, and extending the park theme into the city? Could a few more trees be planted? If storefronts are still covered with sheets of particleboard that first touring season, those should become canvases, covered with murals depicting various aspects of Niagara history, LaSalle's Griffon, fur traders, early forts, industry, power generation, daredevils and so on. We certainly have more history, more stories, than we have sheets of particleboard. Art students from area high schools, NCCC, and Niagara University and others could be invited to design and paint. Perhaps the Niagara Council of the Arts could be involved. The murals could still be in the process of being created as visitors toured.

If tours made stops every half hour for ten hours during the height of the season--and this is a modest example--each people mover carrying 50 people, that's 1,000 people a day. That doesn't seem unrealistic when the low-ball estimate of visitors to Niagara is 7 million annually. If each person spent $20.00 (again, T-shirt and fast food meal = $20.00) that's $140,000 a week. If you think the numbers are too low, double either one to hit $280,000.

We use Main Street as an example. But we imagine such tours extending to include routes throughout the city. We have a lot of stories to tell: the story of power generation, aerospace, bridge building, Underground Railroad, an incredible history of ethnic contribution to the richness of our past. Pine Avenue could participate with "Little Italy" tours, Highland Avenue with the proposed "Little Harlem at the Falls" revitalization with boutiques, restaurants, replication of village safe houses where runaway slaves stayed, a theater, storytellers, flag-lined streets, and other attractions, Niagara Street with its planned International Boulevard and Square, restaurants serving Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Thai menus, industrial tours down Buffalo Avenue to LaSalle, as suggested by Paul Gromosiak, perhaps, to a small museum with its replica of the Griffon, the craft that heralded in the age of shipping on the Great Lakes.

The Niagara Heritage Partnership does not imagine that city tours can be established without enormous hard work, without rethinking and reforming some of the basic structures which accommodate millions of the visitors annually. We hear, for example, much about the typical, almost mythical, four-hour stay of the average tourist. Yet, some bus tours seem designed to minimize the time customers spend in the area. This is good business from their point of view: So much time on Goat Island, a quick-pace to the railing for a photograph at Prospect Point, then off to Factory Outlet. The Goat Island viewmobile ride can be over in about thirty minutes if visitors merely ride and look. Do I exaggerate? Not by much.

There may always be those who want to vacation in this fashion, but perhaps some of them could be convinced to return to spend more time in a leisurely manner. It might be those few notes of blues music they hear on their way to their ten minutes of allotted time at Whirlpool, the glimpse of seagulls soaring on the updrafts over the gorge, or a glossy brochure telling them about historical church tours through city streets, the complimentary six-dollar ticket for two days worth of unlimited riding on the trackless trolley, the "Ride into History" train. And a two-day ticket should be the only one sold, incidentally--unless it's four days for ten dollars.

Within the ecotourism population are two groups of special significance--hikers and bicyclists. There are over 175 bicycling organizations in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Province of Ontario. Hikers number over 20,000 in just one New York organization, the Adirondack Mountain Club. The New York - New Jersey Trail Conference has over 50,000 members. Hiking is so well established that in 1993 National Trail Day was established by the American Hiking Society in recognition of the popular activity, to be celebrated locally on June 10th at the Orin Lehman Center at Prospect Point. The American Hiking Society promotes public awareness and appreciation for trails and partnerships between trail groups and business interests.

Surveys reveal that cyclists traveling in groups spend $50.00 a day for lodging, $60.00 each a day when cycling alone (1988). Could Main Street offer a hostel, small-room lodging, for hikers, bicyclists, and other visitors? These groups should be, if the Niagara Heritage Partnership proposal becomes reality, contacted personally, months before the trails are completed, so they will be able to do advance planning for road trips, rallies, races, hiking meets, and conferences.

A trail within the gorge should soon be completed by State Parks, so the region will be able to offer hiking trails of varying demand levels, suitable for all ages and degrees of physical preparedness. These groups, or their individual members, treated hospitably, and finding an area of remarkable, varying natural landscapes, such as we would have to offer with the parkway gone and restoration underway, would tend to repeatedly spend time at Niagara.

Two final comments remain. The Niagara Heritage Partnership believes that full benefit will come to the Main Street and other business communities only as a result of full parkway removal, all lanes, all the way. Anything less will lead to the eventual gorgetop tours, people movers along the length, combined with the retention of everyday traffic lanes. Potential for riders on city tours will be drastically reduced. The gorge will be further degraded.

Ecotourists, especially those committed to at least the illusion of a wilderness experience, will not be particularly impressed. Can you imagine significant numbers of hikers or bicycle riders traveling here to be subjected to the sight and sound of motor vehicles passing them during their outdoor ventures? They could hike or bicycle along any road to experience that.

If the parkway is removed, with trails running through restored natural landscapes, the project will most certainly attract widespread media attention, in print and film, in an impressive array of publications and venues. This extensive coverage should be encouraged and facilitated, but not relied upon as sufficient. The accomplishment also needs to be well-publicized with a savvy, high concept, glossy, Madison Avenue media campaign announcing to the world what has been achieved here. There can be no shortcuts, no cost-cutting, no halfway measures. If it costs a million, it costs a million. The money must be found somewhere. A three-paragraph notation in a pamphlet with the photograph of the American Falls on the cover, negative reversed so that the Bridal Veil Falls is depicted on the north side, will not be good enough.

Bob Baxter, Founding member - Niagara Heritage Partnership

Monday, July 13, 2009

Begely, Suzuki, Nader Support Robert Moses Parkway Removal

Our organization supports the Niagara Heritage Partnership call for the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway. For more information, see their web site at:

Excerpts from "Activists petition to close section of parkway"

By BILL MICHELMORE - Buffalo News Niagara Bureau - 1/5/2003

NIAGARA FALLS - A grass-roots organization that has spent the past two years quietly garnering support for the removal of a section of the Robert Moses Parkway says it is gearing up to present Albany an international petition containing some powerful names.

More than 3,500 individuals and 50 regional, national and international organizations representing millions of members are backing the Niagara Heritage Partnership's move to tear down the parkway from downtown Niagara Falls to Lewiston.

Among the individuals are Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a conservation lawyer and co-author of "The Riverkeepers," a book about protecting waterways; David Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist and host of the CBC television program "The Nature of Things"; consumer advocate Ralph Nader; and actor Ed Begley Jr., who attended Stella Niagara, a private school in Lewiston.

These are just a few of the people who have added their voices to the movement and have appeared at Buffalo Niagara region environmental functions wearing "Remove the Parkway" buttons.

The Niagara Heritage Partnership wants to restore the natural environment of the Niagara Gorge by removing a six-mile section of the Robert Moses Parkway from downtown Niagara Falls to Lewiston.

The group collected the names through door-to-door campaigns, local events such as national Trails Day and on its Web site,

The biggest backer is Great Lakes United, an international coalition dedicated to restoring and preserving the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem.

"The Niagara Gorge region is a critical habitat for migratory species of birds and aquatic life, and the existence of the parkway inhibits viable resources for these species," said Maria Maybee, biodiversity and habitat program coordinator for Great Lakes United.

The Sierra Club, with 750,000 members nationwide, is the second-largest organization to endorse the removal of the parkway.

A two-year pilot project to close off a section of the parkway and turn it into a hiking-biking trial along the Niagara Gorge was launched by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in September 2001.

The two southbound lanes between Devil's Hole State Park and the Schoellkopf Geological Museum were closed, and the two northbound lanes became a two-way, undivided highway to handle both southbound and northbound traffic for that section.

The $1 million trial run was initiated by the state as a compromise between the Niagara Heritage Partnership and people who say the parkway is a vital link between downtown Niagara Falls and Lewiston.

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Does Removing Roads Increase or Decrease Traffic?

Found an interesting article at Treehugger about removing roads and highways - does it increase or decrease traffic?

There's little detail in the article itself, but I just thought this was an interesting question to pass around to the community.

Lewis Kelley
ASUM Transportation Board </

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Parkway Removal Resolution Signed by Niagara Falls City Council and Others

The following resolution has been signed by The Niagara Falls City Council, The Main Street Business and Professional Association and the Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board.


WHEREAS: The lower Niagara River and the Niagara gorge is a natural wonder of international botanical, cultural, ecological, geological, and historical significance and remains a unique corridor of wilderness within our urban region; and

WHEREAS: The Robert Moses Gorge Parkway bypasses the entire Main Street Business District, Pine Avenue Business District, Niagara Street Business District, Third Street Business District, the Niagara Falls Downtown Business District, and the City’s core; and

WHEREAS: The Niagara Falls’ City Master Plan calls for miles of parkway removal and the Niagara Falls’ December, 2008 “A View of the Falls Final Report,” (page 51), USA Niagara has proposed the 6.5 mile section of the Robert Moses Parkway along the lower river gorge from Niagara Falls to Lewiston be removed with traffic channeled through the city’s center; and

WHEREAS: Eco-tourism is one of the fastest growing major trends in the U.S. and over 55 million U.S. travelers can be classified as eco-tourists who can be drawn to the area to create new economic opportunities; and

WHEREAS: Green Infrastructure Planning College Curriculum (page 10) notes there are economic reasons to protect “viewsheds” since they are important to attracting what are known as Heritage Tourists who come to see historic or culturally important sites spending, on average, two-and-a half times as much money than do other tourists; and

WHEREAS: The 32 member, Smart Growth Network’s (page 43-44) economic analysis concluded owners of small companies ranked recreation, parks, and open space as the highest priorities in choosing new locations for their businesses; and

WHEREAS: Niagara Falls and the Niagara River Region has been designated a National Heritage Area and removal of the Robert Moses Gorge Parkway is consistent with its goals; and

WHEREAS: Removal of the Robert Moses Gorge Parkway is consistent with the Niagara River Greenway Plan for the Region and New York State; and

WHEREAS: the New York Natural Heritage Program concludes the Niagara Gorge calcareous cliff community harboring some of the oldest trees (500-1,000 years old) in the state are threatened by adjacent upslope development (e.g. residential, agricultural, utility right-of-ways and roads) and its associated runoff and other habitat alteration (NYNHP Conservation Guide – Calcareous Cliff Community -page 2); and

WHEREAS: When land adjacent to a historic site is developed, it can mar or even destroy the integrity of the historic site and when these scenic vistas are lost, visitors may stop coming and residents will lose aspects of the landscape that they most value; and

WHEREAS: The people of our region as well as the people around the world should have an opportunity to experience this wonder in its natural and restored state, unmarked by destructive and unsightly development; and

WHEREAS: The Niagara Heritage Partnership’s online petition ( and list of supporting organizations represents an informal marketing study of over 1 million people who support total gorge parkway removal; therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the Main Street Business and Professional Association strongly endorses four lane removal of the Robert Moses Gorge Parkway, from Niagara Falls, north, to the city line and the subsequent restoration of rhis land as a heritage natural area, as described within with the supporting documents attached; and therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board strongly endorses demapping the Robert Moses Gorge Parkway, remapping it as parkland, as the road is neither environmentally sound nor economically feasible, and notes that such closure is financially sound, more cost effective, a more sensible tourism strategy, and a timely economic stimulus for city tourism; and therefore; be it duly

RESOLVED and duly NOTED, that the Niagara Falls City Council endorsed this resolution on April 7, 2009.

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Defining the Niagara River Greenway

Mr. Tom Lyons, Director
Environmental Management Bureau
Agency Building, 17th Floor
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12238

Re: Comments on Draft Generic Environmental Impact Study for Niagara River Greenway

Dear Mr. Lyons:
When was the last time someone asked you to do something great?

In the Niagara River Corridor, we’ve been asked to do something great. We’ve been gifted with an opportunity to not only do something but were given the funds to create and preserve something magnificent and we’re not doing well in living up to that opportunity.

After attending 18 months of Citizens Advisory Committee, and Niagara Greenway Commission meetings, and one Local Government Advisory meeting this is what I observed:

The design team and the Niagara River Greenway Commissioners neglected or refused to
educate themselves, the general public, the business communities, and the local government leaders on
[A] what eco-tourism is and what the eco-tourist looks for,
[B] what a genuine greenway in its purest form is,
[C] the social, economic, health, environmental, and quality of life benefits communities reap by creating sections of a genuine, non-motorized greenway and
[D] what “pollution-based prosperity” is.

According to an interview given by Bobby Kennedy Jr., Good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy 100 percent of the time. We can measure the economy in one of two ways. We can base ourassessment on whether the economy produces jobs of dignity over the long-termand preserves our community assets. Or we can do what the polluters are urging us to do: treat the planet as if it were a business in liquidation and convert our natural resources into cash as quickly as possible. This is pollution-based prosperity. It creates the illusion of a prosperous economy, but our children will pay for our joyride. They will pay for it with denuded landscapes, poor health,and huge cleanup costs. Environmental injury is deficit spending. It loads the costof our generation’s prosperity onto the backs of our children.

…Environmentalism has become the most important civil rights issue. The role of government is to protect the commons: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the fisheries, the wildlife, the public lands. Those resources are our social safety net.

…The environment is the infrastructure of our communities. As a nation, as a civilization, it’s our obligation to create communities for our children that provide them with opportunities for dignity and good health. When we destroy nature, we diminish ourselves and impoverish our children. We ignore that at our own peril.
(O The Oprah Magazine, Feb. 2007, page 230-234)

The predetermined ownership of the funds and the focus of the Niagara River Greenway were in place long before the process was officially implemented making two-county consensus almost impossible to achieve. This became public knowledge at the November 2006 Local Gov. Advisory Meeting, Beaver Island State Park.

The proof: When the Co-chair of the Niagara County Environmental Management Council, Gail Walder, asked the greenway planners and Commissioner Ron Moline, Chairman of the Local Gov. Advisory Committee, “If the municipalities do not accept the Niagara River Greenway Plan, what happens to the money?” Mr. Warren Kahn, attorney for the Power Coalition member, Lewiston-Porter School District, stated that, “if the plan is not adopted we have already agreed to meet with NYPA and to renegotiate our funds.” (For some reason, the Niagara Gazette omitted this statement from the subsequent newspaper article.)

In documenting Olmsted, the planners omitted several key points and philosophies. The National Association of Olmsted Parks (NAOP) ( identifies: …examples of the many kinds of designs by which the profession of landscape architecture could improve the quality of life in America. These included the large urban park, devoted primarily to the experience of scenery and designed so as to counteract the artificiality of the city and the stress of urban life; the parkway; the scenic reservation, protecting areas of special scenic beauty from destruction and commercial exploitation…

His principal projects in each category are:
1. Scenic reservation: the Niagara Reservation (1887)
2. Parkways: Bidwell and Chapin Parkways, Buffalo (1870)(wide, residential boulevards)
3. Park system: Buffalo-Delaware Park

Olmsted believed that it was the purpose of his art to affect the emotions. This was especially evident in his park design, where he created passages of scenery in which the visitor would become immersed; experiencing the restorative action of the landscape by what Olmsted termed an “unconscious” process. To achieve this result, he subordinated all elements of the design to the single purpose of making the landscape experience most profound. Olmsted always sought to look beyond the current taste and fashion and to base his designs on fundamental principals of
human psychology. As Olmsted expressed it, the term “scenery” does not apply to any field of vision in which all that is to be seen is clear and well defined in outline. References quoted: Beveridge, Charles, et al

Note: (Mr. Beveridge is the same resource two of the Niagara Heritage Partnership (NHP) founders used when they filmed “Fading in the Mist,” the award-winning, PBS documentary about the ongoing scenic destruction of Niagara Falls. A copy of this documentary was mailed to NYS OSPRHP Commissioner, Bernadette Castro. Our understanding from her is that she did not view the film.)

The NAOP’s Advocacy Role: Frederick Law Olmsted was more than a park designer; he was the leading voice for the provision of healthful, accessible and beautiful greenspaces for all citizens. Today, the NAOP sees its role in much the same way. This network preserves specific places and ensures that the Olmsted ideals of high quality design, abundance of natural elements and democratic accommodations are part of the modern parks movement.

Strategic Pataki appointments and on-going ethics violations were ignored or dismissed. Former Gov. Pataki appointed the NYPA chairman, the NYS Parks Commissioner, the members of the Niagara Greenway Commission, the Secretary of State (this person oversees the Ethics Commission and is a Niagara Greenway Commissioner), he appoints members of the Ethics Commission and members to the Department of Transportation. Before leaving office he appointed the former NYPA chairman and local developer, Louis Ciminelli, to the NRG, replacing Commissioner Michael Cornell.

The Conservation Fund’s book, Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Development, states in its preface “even federal agencies involved in creating greenways concede that a top-down approach doesn’t work.” After reading the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Study (DGEIS) for Niagara River Greenway (NRG) and watching the forming of the Niagara Greenway, it’s become increasingly clear that The Conservation Fund’s statement is valid.

The Niagara River Greenway’s DGEIS plan outlines eleven guiding principals and anticipates regional and governmental compliance. Yet, over half of those principals have already been either blatantly ignored or violated by members of the design team, some members of the NRG, two Niagara County Chambers of Commerce, and the Niagara Power Coalition the group that ultimately decides the fate of any suggested projects in Niagara County. (Please see the attached letter requesting an ethics investigation and other supporting documentation)

The Niagara Heritage Partnership’s ( proposal for four lane parkway removal—between Niagara Falls and Lewiston—not only epitomizes every draft plan guiding principal, it’s actually a proposal for a genuine greenway that meets and exceeds every guiding principal put forth by the Wendel Duchscherer design team and the Niagara River Greenway Commission.

Despite the fact that NHP, as a NYPA relicensing stakeholder, was informed during the NYPA relicensing process that this issue of road removal, reclamation, and restoration would be addressed in the Niagara Greenway venue as it was “project specific,” this team of experts refused to support or implement their own guiding principals and proved this by omitting the NHP proposal. In fact, at the Citizens’ Advisory Meeting, held the same night as the revealing Gov. Advisory Meeting, Mr, Mistretta flatly stated that he “is not changing the plan.”

The planners left off the “conceptual plan” every project the Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council put forth.

If the genuine greenway proposal and genuine greenway conservation and environmental
concepts put forth by NHP and the Habitat Council can be erroneously perceived by some as detrimental and lacking quality of life merit and economic value, what then is the widely accepted, genuine definition of a Greenway, according to viewpoints of other nonbiased states in the nation who have successfully implemented them?

The Conservation Fund’s American Greenways Program:
First, greenways offer a way to preserve vital habitat corridors, and to promote plant and animal species diversity. A greenway serves as a critical filtering zone, absorbing contaminates in surface runoff, and trees, and shrubs, and cover vegetation along the corridor cleanse and replenish the air. Greenways provide much needed space for outdoor recreation. It is ideally suited to such popular outdoor activities as jogging, walking, biking, fishing, and canoeing. They
provide safe, alternative, non-motorized transportation routes. Greenways link us to our communities, and, by lessening our dependence on the automobile, can improve air quality and reduce road congestion.

Greenways offer a way to protect our nation’s cultural heritage. They give us access to buildings of historic and architectural significance. They allow us to look back at our past and our traditions—to revisit remnants of settlements and the industrial centers that define our history. Greenways can help preserve the rural character of a community or safeguard areas of visual interest by protecting ridgelines, river corridors, and scenic resources. A greenway offers visual relief; its wooded breaks can frame and distinguish neighborhoods. Greenways are community amenities with an economic value. Greenways enhance the quality of life and can increase the value of surrounding properties. Greenway have been shown to draw tourists and have
been the catalyst behind new commercial development and the revitalization of former town centers.

Greenways Incorporated:
Two-thirds of all the trips we make are for a distance of five miles or less. Greenway trails, as part of a local or regional system, offer transportation alternatives by connecting homes, workplaces, schools, parks, planning centers and cultural attractions. Using trails to bicycle or walk for short-distance trips reduces air pollution and increases the mobility of those who cannot drive.

Greenways have been proven to attract and retain tourists and expand tourism revenues in many communities. A case in point is the Tallahassee-St.Marks Trail in Florida where approximately 170,000 people visit each year. A study from the real estate industry revealed that “walking and biking paths” ranked 3rd among 39 features indentified by homebuyers as crucial factors in their homemakingdecisions (1994 American Lives Study).

Cleveland/ Bradley County Greenway:

Greenways provide alternate transportation corridors; provide great economic returns to a region. Increased tourism and the resulting business growth add to the tax base and create jobs for residents. Greenways provide an excellent place for learning about ecology, often serving as living laboratories for students. People who live in communities that have greenways find these natural corridors become an integral part of an enriched quality of life.

New Bear Creek Greenway Site, Oregon
Paths are paved, suitable for walkers, joggers, bicyclists, skaters, strollers, and wheelchair users. Motorized vehicles, with the exception of maintenance vehicles and wheelchairs, are prohibited. The greenway is essential for preserving both the quality of Bear Creek’s water and its unique stream-side habitat. This corridor is a refuge for animals and it will increase in importance as population in Bear Creek grows. The enviable quality of life enjoyed by Bear Creek Valley residents is further enhanced by the existence of the Greenway.

Mission statement: The mission of the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation is to support acquiring land, restoring and protecting habitat, enhancing safety and security, constructing trails for the benefit of the general public. The Greenway trail will provide more alternative access to parks, and other destinations along the Greenway. The Greenway trail will allow families, individuals, and school classes access to places to observe wildlife.

Trails and Greenways Clearinghouse
Benefits of trails and greenways: creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation and non-motorized transportation; strengthening local economies, protecting the environment, preserving culturally and historically valuable areas.

Mr. Lyons, we recognized at the Stakeholders forum the close relationship Robert Moses, NYPA, and NYS OSPRHP have had for over fifty years and we realize that contemplating the removal of a road dedicated to him might border on the sacrilegious for NYPA and State Parks, but we are respectfully asking the Niagara Greenway Plan embrace the Olmsted Philosophies underlined in section 3 and as stated in the legislation that created the Niagara Greenway Commission.

We trust that you, Mr. Lyons, as a representative of the lead agency, and ultimately, Ms. Carol Ash, the new State Parks Commissioner, will recognize the creation of the Niagara River Greenway means more than the flow of dollars. It’s also about core values, civility, and working toward a common good that should benefit every individual, not just support the commercial goals of a very select few.

October 30, 2006 Ethics Investigation Request Letter
October 30, 2006 Letter to Commissioner Castro re: DeVeaux Woods State Park
NYPA Timeline
April 21, 2006 Legislative Gazette, Letter to the Editor, Definition of a Greenway
Webpage printouts:
[1] Parkway Preservation Committee Members (revised by them, see original list
attached to Ethics Investigation Request Letter)
[2] Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
[3] Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
[4] Buffalo Olmsted Parks Board of Trustees – Note Long-Range Planners
[5] Buffalo Rising Blog: Hello Niagara Power Coalition: “Greening Your Pockets?”

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

National Association for Olmsted Parks - Economic Benefits, Parks Practices

City parks are dynamic institutions that play a vital, but not fully appreciated or understood role in the social, economic, and physical well-being of America's cities and its residents. Dating back to the 19th century when Frederick Law Olmsted introduced the first large-scale city parks to this country, these green spaces provided relief from urban intensity for city residents and brought people together across social, economic and racial divides. In the postwar years, when the population shifted away from urban centers, our nation's city parks suffered enormously from disinvestments and many are still experiencing it.

As cities across the country are attracting millions of residents again, the center of this sweeping urban renaissance are newly revitalized parks. They are not only safe and beautiful, but also serve as green engines to help address nearly every critical urban need from health to housing, to education and environmental justice, and countering sprawl to combating crime. This massive movement to rebuild America's forgotten city parks now includes thousands of community partnerships and millions of volunteers.

The Parks Practices Web site has been developed by the City Parks Alliance (CPA) and National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) partnership to assist local parks in meeting their current needs more effectively as they encounter the ever present challenges in preserving, maintaining, operating and funding their parks and in serving their increasingly diverse constituents. Park leaders have developed innovative approaches to address these issues, responding to a changing economic climate where public budgets for city parks have been reduced and the reliance on the public sector grows. The site seeks to highlight the experience of CPA and NAOP members both successes and failures, facilitate a sharing of lessons learned, and provide opportunities for interaction among city park leaders and citizen groups. It is hoped that through this effort there will be greater investment in city parks across the country and a renewed interest in their role as centers of our common heritage. (Source: National Association for Olmsted Parks)

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A Fairy Tale About Trolls by ER Baxter III

(“lawnmower,” concrete poem, (detail) 1972 E.R. Baxter III)

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a magical land far, far away from most people, there was a beautiful waterfall. This sparkling river leapt and thundered into a deep gorge, sending up clouds of mist where sun rays made rainbows, and through which birds soared, disappearing and appearing again. The gorge and its rim were rich with forests of giant, ancient trees and wildflower meadows.

Slowly, as the years passed, factories and other manmade things gobbled up the beauty of natural landscapes that used to be everywhere. Still, what remained caused some people to notice that the river and its shorelines was a wonderful home for wild birds and they named this place a Globally Significant Important Bird Area.

Then others, as if waking from a long dreaming, said, "But there is an ugly concrete road running right through it! All the wildflower meadows are either sleeping under the concrete or cut into little pieces by lawnmowers!" They looked at one another, eyes wide in wonderment, and said altogether as if with one voice, "Let's ask that the ugly road be removed!"

But others, upon hearing this, said, "No! No! It's a globally significant important road! We love it! God gave us this road! So we have a God-given right to drive on it! Didn't God's most important prophet, Moses, build it for us? We drive back and forth on it all the time and if we do this long enough it will lead us to heaven!"


And the story must stop here, in this land where magic flutes still play faintly in the distance. Now you are probably saying to yourself, “What the hell kind of fairy tale is this? It doesn't have an ending! Nobody gets to live happily ever after?” Well, grow up. You expected a fairy tale because of the title?

Would you like to know where this place is, with its distant music waiting to be reborn? Visit and sign the petition to help us remove the road. Do you know of a courageous politician who loves the natural world? Ask that person to help restore this little part of it. If the politician tries to tell you it's the road to heaven, don't you believe it. It’s more likely to be a road to that Other Place, anyway. It is an ugly, ugly road, filled with evil spirits. Trolls who love concrete more than trees come out from under their bridges and creep around on this road at night. Do not go there after dark.

The End

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

What We Expected From Niagara's Leaders

Leadership carries expectations. We expect leaders to think independently and omit private agendas. We assume the elected will be progressive and well informed. We expect them to include everyone when planning economic development. Leadership actions and closed-meeting decisions affect us all.

When making public statements, we expect leaders to have reviewed the facts. If they have not, then we expect integrity. We expect them to withhold opinion until thorough research occurs.

Here are some facts about the Robert Moses Gorge Parkway (RMP)—the section between Niagara Falls and Lewiston.

Fact: Other than Legislator Renee Kimble, Mayor Paul Dyster, and the Niagara Falls City Council, no elected official, Commission, or Authority in Niagara County has requested information from the Niagara Heritage Partnership (NHP).

Fact: The “recent meeting with concerned citizens to discuss parkway removal” excluded the NHP and their advocates.

Fact: The RMP removal “debate” truly is “the few against the many.” Over 1 million people, tourists, residents, and 80 organizations supporting the NHP proposal, want Niagara Falls and the Niagara River gorge reclaimed, restored, and preserved. They want to experience a natural landscape, a magnificent, scenic wonder.

Fact: The RMP is a cars only, no commercial traffic road. As to the “abandoned section of the former parkway,” that’s a clear example of how and why compromise on the RMP fails.

Okay, “let’s pretend the RMP disappears.” Let’s ignore Lewiston Road, too. That eliminates the DeVeaux neighborhood, Maple Avenue School argument.

Fact: There are alternative routes between Niagara Falls and Lewiston. The I-190 and Military Road (route 265) are major links. Witmer and Porter Packard are available exits into Niagara Falls, also.

Fact: Tourists follow signage. They use the routes indicated.

Fact: The I-190 is “the best and most efficient way to travel” in either direction between Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Lewiston.

Fact: Traffic going north to Youngstown can use exit 25A. Keep left, merge onto the RMP, and continue to Old Fort Niagara.

Fact: Travelers using the RMP bypass every business district in Niagara Falls, including Main Street and Pine Avenue, and they bypass Main Street, Youngstown.

Fact: That cripples business.

Fact: Removing the RMP will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, temporary and permanent.

Fact: RMP removal will reinvigorate our challenged local economy. It will infuse billions of dollars in heritage tourist revenue. A dozen cities that removed roads provided the figures quoted. I’d love to share this information with you. It’s exciting to embrace opportunity and know it includes and benefits us all.

Fact: Removing the RMP and restoring the native species capitalizes on our urban old growth forest, the Underground Railroad, and our Native American legacies as experiential, walkable history sites. This documented approach emulates Oregon’s Wagon Train route and Missouri’s Lewis and Clark Expedition. It involves and keeps tourists much longer than a day or two. It educates.

Fact: NHP acquiesced on their preservation vision for the gorge region. They backed up to the Niagara Falls north city line.

Reluctance to compromise has nothing to do with a “take no prisoner’s mentality.” In actuality, clandestine organizing to keep the road holds Niagara Falls’ businesses hostage.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009


Niagara Heritage Partnership Petition Quote

“What kind of madman would totally barricade Niagara Falls from one of the most beautiful riverfronts in the world with a wall of concrete that wasn't needed 40 years ago and sure as hell isn't needed now? A New York City meglomaniac who valued vehicles over people, who tore up entire neighborhoods without giving a damn for countless numbers of residents. Robert Moses and his environmentally ravaging monuments to himself have been shown to be blatantly outdated relics of an unenlightened past. The time has come to move on. Everyone on this petition should contact the New York State Office of Parks in Albany and keep screaming until they Tear Down This Bloody Wall!”
--Bill Michelmore, Buffalo News Reporter (retired) Amherst, NY

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Don't Move Firewood - Prevent Emerald Ash Borer Infestation

Give me a chance to reach many people with one simple sermon and I'll pulpit pound about native plants and trees, pollinators, and the importance bees.

A tiny emerald ash borer centered on penny won’t cover Lincoln’s image. Space remains. The iridescent, metallic green bug is beautiful and deadly. It kills every ash tree it infects in 2-3 years. NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed the first occurrence on June 17, 2009 in Randolph, NY (Cattaraugus County.)

Paul A. Weston, Department of Entomology, Cornell University, noted "some have predicted this insect will mean the end of ash trees in North America, similar to the fate of chestnut trees following the arrival of chestnut blight on these shores.
The bug's economic impact is in the billions. An Ohio Department of Natural Resources study estimated there to be more than 3.8 billion ash trees in Ohio, with standing timber valued at more than $1 billion.

Cornell's ForrestConnect Webinar discussed the insect, its impacts, and courses of action: Don't Move Firewood. Methods for eradication include purple sticky traps, chemicals, and biosurveillance. A native predatory wasp, Cerceis fumipenns, transported to invested sites is proving effective. Early detection and rapid response is important. Look at and inventory your trees. Identify resources. Make treatment decisions - treat the tree or take it down.

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