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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