Tuesday, December 29, 2009

17 Threats to the NYS Preservation Plan

The 2009-2013 New York State Preservation Plan, Historic Preservation at a Crossroads, identified seventeen key threats to implementing the plan. It states “each of these threats was mentioned repeatedly in all aspects of the public outreach process.” (page 15)

One only had to attend a recent Niagara River Greenway Standing Committee meeting and watch Senator Maziarz and former Lewiston Mayor Soluri to see these threats literally in action as the two men interfered with a funding request for a proposal titled: Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim. The Niagara Gorge rim is botanically and culturally unique.

The key threats listed in the State Parks Preservation Plan I found particularly significant to Niagara Falls (NY) and the region are quoted and listed below. These same key threats readily translate and apply to land preservation as well as historic building and cultural preservation.

1.   1.  Lack of awareness and/or the political will to protect historic and cultural resources: Many meeting participants expressed concern that historic and cultural resources are frequently lost or threatened through a basic lack of awareness about their social and economic value as well as a lack of awareness about historic tools, strategies, and incentives. Fear of controversy and lack of understanding prevents many communities from protecting historic and cultural resources.

2.     2.Lack of awareness about the economic benefits of historic preservation and the economic return on investments made in building rehabilitation and community revitalization. It was widely noted that historic preservation tools and strategies are underutilized and should be better incorporated into statewide community revitalization and economic development strategies. Many people advocated for better collection of data related to the economic impacts of historic preservation as well as development of a comprehensive economic impact study.

3.     3.Sprawl/ suburbanization and the erosion of rural, open space, and agricultural lands: Existing economic incentives continue to favor and encourage this type of growth.

4.    4. Lack of statewide Main Street Program: Many participants observed that New York State is one of the few states without a statewide downtown revitalization program based on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s four point approach emphasizing design, community organizing, economic restructuring and promotion.

5.     5.Failure of communities and agencies to comply fully with SEQRA and ineffectiveness of SEQRA as a tool to  protect historic and cultural resources: The SEQRA process and its application as a tool to protect historic and cultural resources continue to be misunderstood, underutilized and improperly used.

6.    6. Urban disinvestment, lack of investment in older buildings and neighborhoods, and subsequent deterioration and loss of historic and cultural resources: Many people noted these trends have continued for decades and suggested that New York needs urban policies and incentives to help reverse these plans.

Quote of the Day

From the Niagara Heritage Partnership website petition to remove the Robert Moses Parkway:

Buffalo, NY

Niagara Falls New York is in need of a complete makeover; there really aren't many things worth keeping, and the theory should be "implode as much as possible and start over"......I've followed the niagara heritage partnership for some time without being more involved; i've concluded that this is a most thoughtful and resolute group of people; they only ask to fix things, and they listen more than they talk, which is rare and appreciated. I have not heard one iota of logic for keeping the parkway. Robert Moses raped this region; there are things we cannot do on some fronts; there are things we can do on others. Eliminating the parkway seems to make sense environmentally, economically and for the future plans of the falls. I fully support the work of the NHP because if someone had a logical, working solution to what they are proposing here, we'd have heard of it. If anyone has such a solution, bring it forward and i'm sure the NHP would listen. To quote Ronald Reagan, "Mr. Gorbachav, tear down this wall"!!!!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Historic Preservation at a Crossroads

This is the second handout given to the Niagara River Greenway Standing Committee. You can read the first one here. (click on here).  

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation recently published its 2009-2013 Historic Preservation Plan, Historic Preservation at a Crossroads. It received final approval by the National Park Service on March 27, 2009.  

The rationales for creating the document are on page four. Here are two: [1] “New York is a state of incredible beauty, abundance, history, and culture. Historic preservation helps communities make the most of these assets and is a positive but underutilized contributing force at the intersection of the state’s declining population and economic trends and its considerable assets and opportunities.” [2] Historic Preservation is a community catalyst and a powerful engine for economic growth. It stimulates pride, and inspires residents to help themselves, brings neighborhoods and communities together, enhances community assets, attracts reinvestment, creates more jobs than new construction, and keeps labor earnings cycling through local economies. Its incremental, locally oriented, and sustainable revitalization activities have been successful in good and bad economic climates in diverse communities across America for many years.”  

The “Plan has been prepared to assist all New Yorkers interested in identifying, protecting, enhancing, and promoting the state’s historic and cultural resources. It is based on the premise that historic preservation is in New York State’s best interest: it is a powerful but as yet underutilized community and economic development strategy that should be an integral part of New York State’s revitalization, smart growth, and sustainability efforts.” (page 7)  

"Part I is the heart of the plan. It identifies 11 key themes and seven key historic preservation strategies", or goals. The first theme, Leadership and Advocacy, notes “a need for a clear, unified voice, stronger execution of federal and state preservation laws, increased collaboration with others. Coordination and Collaboration, listed as a second theme, addressed “better integration, coordination, and collaboration between state agencies, not-for-profits and private agencies, organizations and individuals in order to bring people together."  

For Niagara Falls, the “Statewide Main Street Program” theme is particularly important. The plan states on page 14, “Despite being a pioneer in the main street revitalization concept, New York is one of a very few states that have not established a statewide Main Street Program, although such a program has been considered and partly implemented by state agencies and organizations such as New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, New York State Department of State, and the New York Main Street Alliance.”  

Main Street revitalization is also noted as a “key historic preservation strategy.” Here’s part of the vision statement printed on page 18: “Historic preservation will be understood as a rational approach for protecting irreplaceable historic and cultural resources and managing change, offering proven, fiscally conservative, cost-effective community strategies that: 1. Revitalize, strengthen, and enhance New York’s cities, villages, and rural hamlets while making use of existing infrastructure and transportation systems and CONSERVING farmland, OPEN SPACE, and NATURAL AREAS." [emphasis, mine.]  

So, there it is, laid out in print by New York State Parks, a five year plan that clearly states exactly what the Niagara Heritage Partnership as envisioned and advocated for since 1997: We can make use of all the existing alternate routes (I-190, Route 265 etc), eliminate the Robert Moses Parkway, redirect the traffic down Main Street, Niagara Falls via Hyde Park Boulevard and Highland Avenue, AND reclaim the natural area of the gorge rim as open space. A third post will list the Key Threats Identified in the Planning Process.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Next Christmas: Rent-a-Reindeer - Tonic

Forget the holiday lights. Forget the competition with your neighbors. Next year, rent a real reindeer. Rent-a-Reindeer - Tonic

Wishing you warmth, joy, and laughter from Niagara Falls, NY.
Happy Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"If you don't have safe streets, all the light rail lines in the world aren't going to save your city."

This Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) sidebar note caught my attention: "If you don't have safe streets, all the light rail lines in the world aren't going to save your city."

The article and another longer one can be found here.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thought of the Day

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.” David Carr

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scientists hope to curb exploding bat lungs near Great Lakes wind turbines | Great Lakes Echo

I'm not a fan of of wind turbines. They're unsightly and always seem to be placed in the most beautiful viewsheds. Here's a an article about the harmful effects they have on bats. Scientists claim the low pressure caused by the spinning blades ruptures capillaries and the bats' lungs explode. The article is on the Great Lakes Echo blog. Click here:
Scientists hope to curb exploding bat lungs near Great Lakes wind turbines | Great Lakes Echo

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thought of the Day

Notes To An Art Maker & Marketeer, part I
from HTMLGIANT by Ken Baumann

Community is important, but so is dissemination.

Magic will always reside in the product. As the ignorant become less so, look for new ways to hide process.

‘Industry standard’ means broken.

Remember that you will probably embrace the idea that offends you the most. Make it sooner rather than later.

Anticipate ecology moving away from the market and becoming an ethics again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Will NYS Senator Maziarz Prevent the Revitalization of Niagara Falls and Niagara County?

Yesterday, disquieting political actions by the senator and a former mayor occurred during the Q & A portion of a Niagara River Greenway Standing Committee presentation.

One presenter provided everyone in the room with two handouts. The first briefly captured a March, 2009 direction plan New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYS OPRHP) intends to implement statewide. "The NYS OPRHP pre-publication final plan was approved by the National Park Service on March 27, 2009." The second document contained information compiled from 10 cities, National Park Service, and The Trust for Public Land.

Printed below, it lists 52 compiled facts, lessons learned. The NYS OPRHP handout will be a separate post.

Case Studies in Urban Road Removal - The Benefits and Impacts - LESSONS LEARNED

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. If the public is forewarned, traffic is adequately redistributed.

6. 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] Creative Tourism destination initiatives

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. 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

After witnessing the blatant undermining attempts by the senator inquiring minds want to know, in the face of sound economic facts and clear public benefits provided by cities across the United States and the world,
Why did Senator Maziarz and the former Mayor of Lewiston, NY, lobby against funding the proposal "Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim?"

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Cupcake Day is Today! - Tonic

National Cupcake Day is Today! - Tonic

Civil Society Blocked in Copenhagen by UNFCC


Today's Excerpt...

From the book, "(integrity) by Stephen L. Carter.
Explanations. The Rules about the Rules. Pages ix-14

"When I refer to integrity, I have something very simple and very specific in mind.

Integrity requires three steps: (1) discerning what is right and what is wrong; (2) acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and (3) saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong. The first criterion captures the idea of integrity as requiring a degree of moral reflectiveness. The second brings in the ideal of an integral person as steadfast, which includes the sense of keeping commitments. The third reminds us that a person of integrity is unashamed of doing the right.

...One reason to focus on integrity...is that it is in some sense prior to everything else[.]

The rest of what we think matters very little if we lack essential integrity, the courage of our convictions, the willingness to act and speak in behalf of what we know to be right.

...No matter what our politics, no matter what causes we may support, would anybody really want to be led or followed or assisted by people who lack integrity? People whose words we could not trust, whose motives we didn't respect, who might at any moment toss aside everything we thought we had in common and march off in some other direction?

...Integrity is not the same as honesty. ...One can be honest without being integral, for integrity, as I define it, demands a difficult process of discerning one's deepest understanding of right and wrong, and then requires action consistent with what one has learned.

...We refuse to think in terms of right and wrong when we elect or reject political candidates based on what they will do for our own pocketbooks.

...But in order to live with integrity, it is sometimes necessary to take that difficult step--to get involved--to fight openly for what on believes to be true and right and good, even when there is risk to oneself.

...People living an integral life must be willing to say that he or she is acting consistently with what he or she has decided what is right. ...people of integrity are willing to tell us why they are doing what they are doing.

...--saying publicly that we are doing what we think is right, even when others disagree--is made particularly difficult by our national desire to conform.

...Integrity does not always require following the rules. Sometimes--as in the civil rights movement--integrity requires breaking the rules. But it also requires that one be open and public both the fact of one’s dissent and the reasons for it.

Corruption. Acts of Unintegrity.
…the search for right [is what] each of us must undertake. …If integrity has an opposite, perhaps it is corruption—the getting away with things we know to be wrong.

Corruption is corrosive. We believe we can do it just a little. Nearly all of us break small laws, laws governing everything from the [traffic and highway signs, such as the] speed at which we may drive to [ the illegal use of roads].

…one who engages in repeated acts of unintegrity may be said to living an unintegral life.

...What are our rules about when we follow the rules? What are our rules when we break them?"

Cerreto: Parkway is Like A Berlin Wall

FACT: Cerreto Admits Robert Moses Parkway is a barrier to the waterfront. He claims, "The Parkway should provide us access to our natural resources and not a barrier to them, especially in and around Niagara Falls." Article below.


Town of Lewiston receives federal grant for bike path

Departments update town board on current operation budgets

by Larry Austin
Lewiston Porter Sentinel, August 13, 2005

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter notified the Town of Lewiston board in an Aug. 1 letter that Congress' federal transportation bill includes $108 million for highway projects for the Buffalo area. Within that sum is $1.84 million for a recreational bike path from the City of Niagara Falls to the Town of Lewiston.

As reported last week in the Sentinel, the path would link a pathway along the upper Gorge to the existing Town of Lewiston bike path below the hill that runs from Mohawk Street along the Robert Moses Parkway to Pletcher Road and north to the Village of Youngstown.

At Monday's town work session, Lewiston Town Supervisor Fred Newlin said the pathways, similar to those in Canada, bring tourist dollars to the area.

More Tourism Dollars

"Anytime you see people moving around, that means that's dollars moving around," Newlin said. "Dollars that we generate from tourists are one less dollar we have to generate for services supplied to the taxpayer by the taxpayer. So we all have an interest in seeing tourism thrive here in Niagara County."

Newlin credited the Niagara County Public Works Department for applying for the grant that generated the appropriation to Lewiston.

The path would connect the City of Niagara Falls and the Town of Lewiston. Newlin said he will begin talks with Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello to see how the town and city can "meet each other halfway" on issues related to the path.

"If there is a difference between the $1.84 million that is appropriated in this federal bill and the final cost, I think it probably would be fair for the Town of Lewiston and the City of Niagara Falls to split the difference," Newlin said.

Money could come from the Greenway funds secured in the recently finalized New York Power Authority relicensing agreement, Newlin said.

Improved Access

Town Councilman John Ceretto said the town has worked on the bike path proposal for eight years. Not only will the transportation bill generate tourist dollars, he said, but also it will improve access between the village and escarpment area. When the parkway was originally built, Ceretto said, the state inadvertently created a physical barrier between those living above the hill and those living in the village.

"There's always been a wall there," Ceretto said. "Not only the safety I was worried about, but it's almost like a Berlin Wall

"You see more and more people and biking and walking and things like that," he added. "So this is a quality of life issue, and I think that this is very good for Lewiston."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Leadership Assembly

Last week a discussion took place with the Leadership Niagara Class of 2009--the best class ever! Several provocative questions were asked on the final day. "Who decides who will be the leaders? The individuals interviewing the potential members for the class of 2010? What about the people who were rejected? Were they not qualified? Why not? Who decides the role of leadership?" Does anyone actually have the right to make that decision about someone? Maybe it's simply politics as usual in Niagara County. Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Niagara Gazette - GRASSLANDS RESTORATION: New butterflies appear at Artpark's restored grasslands area.

Niagara Gazette - GRASSLANDS RESTORATION: New butterflies appear at Artpark's restored grasslands area.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Garden Rant

How to be nicer from Garden Rant Garden Rant

Discussion About The Trolley Study Proposed by Niagara County Legislator John Cerreto

Dan Davis - Niagara Community Forum Blog (Used with Permission)
"I'll predict the outcome of the study will be that it is a terrific idea and that they will need further study to determine what the implementation process should be. Then, they will need a few million to buy buses (trolleys) and hire consultants to determine the best routes. They will likely try to bypass Main Street in favor of the Aquarium and Whirlpool Park (of course they will have to double back for the new train station). When the "Garden Parkway" is complete, they will be able to drive right past there (new station) on their way to Whirlpool Park. The big question will be, how they route to Niagara University and the Power Vista and get back on the Parkway before they reach the top of Lewiston hill. None of this fares well if you have business interest on main street or are in favor of parkway removal to Lewiston.

I think someday there will (and should) be a trolley service through the city to north towns and back. How it is routed is a different situation. If our civic leaders are concerned about the livelihood of Main Street, they will insist is is routed from the Aquarium down Main to the new depot and beyond.

It is unlikely they will recommend going through Deveaux. There is a slight chance it could be routed to the [Niagara Falls] Country Club, at the top of Lewiston hill eliminating the need to use the parkway past Devils Hole.

What do you think John Ceretto's motives are? Does he want a "People Mover" that promotes the entire area, or does he want a fast track to Lewiston. His actions in respect to the routing will have the answer."

ER Baxter - Niagara Heritage Partnership (Used with Permission)
"Your prediction sounds like a solid possibility. What I return to is: this was billed as a feasibility study. The main question, then, is: "Is it feasible?" If the answer is: "Yes, if you throw enough money at it," then it could have been answered without the "study," as easily as I did just now.

2) If the question is expanded to "How can we encourage visitors to stay here longer & see more of what we have to offer (and as a result spend more of their money here)?" then how that question is answered becomes more complicated. If the answer is "We provide a trolley to take them to various points of interest," that brings up other questions.

The first one is, "Who will pay for the trolley?"

The second one is, "Will the money spent to establish, operate, and maintain the trolley be repaid by the fares visitors spend to ride it?"

That is, "Will it be self-supporting?" The short answer is, "No, not even close." We now go back to the first question of who will pay for it.

Thus far the answers have been relatively easy and the team at Niagara University had arrived at this point quickly--hence their speculation about "corporate sponsors." Maybe that's possible. Perhaps machines vending Coca-cola on the trolleys would be enough payback as was one idea floated by the team--as well as logos on the trolley sides, ect. I can't speak to that.

But these questions have to be answered by the study:
How much would it cost to establish a trolley system?

How much for each trolley?

How many are needed?

What would the fuel costs be per mile?

How much would it cost annually for insurance?

Would the trolleys run beyond the approximately 100 day tourist season?

From what segments of the tourist population would the ridership come?

Would couples and families who drove their own vehicles here be willing to embark on an hours-long trolley ride to Murphy's Orchards, the NT Carousal museum, [The Niagara County] Wine Trail, Lockport Caves, and so on, away from their cars, unable to make a decision to stop for lunch when & where they wanted to, take a side trip, etc etc?

How much time would be taken up by these trips? Seems as if 3 hours wouldn't be an over-estimate. (To each location.)

How about those who arrive here on tour buses? That would seem to be natural--these people don't have their own cars to drive to Fort Niagara, for example. But tour buses already go to Fort Niagara...and these drivers have a schedule to maintain, too. They aren't going to sit around drinking coffee waiting for their customers to take a trolley ride. "Okay, everybody out. Take a look over the gorge edge. Thirty minutes here at the Power Vista, and everybody back on the bus. Here we go. Next stop Goat Island."

At what location would these trolley-loads of tourists be picked up to begin their "stay-with-us-longer" tours? Has this question even been considered by the Niagara University study team?

It's a logistical nightmare from which there is no escape, if we are looking for the effort to have an economic payoff and not be just another instance of tens of
millions of taxpayer dollars poured down yet another rathole of special interests.

I suspect as you do that this "study" will be a subjective mass of speculations and fictions that will conclude there is a need for further study and that it remains what it was to start with: a transparent attempt to justify the continued existence of the gorge parkway coupled with the goal of trolleying tourists to Lewiston businesses (and to Old Fort Niagara, at Bob Emerson's insistence as the initiative evolved). (This route will be the "pilot" part of the proposal.)

Further, (note: see the pdf file filed under recent doucments)Legislator John Ceretto, also an employee of OPRHP, [Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation] seems not to understand the concept of "conflict of interest," in spite of his earlier efforts to get a County resolution passed calling for the retention of the gorge parkway and being forced to withdraw it because he was in conflict. Having Niagara University and students there function as his proxy doesn't shield him from engagement in this further conflict.

The study conducted by NU must state the parkway will not be a utilized route--it is insufficient to say that "study findings are not dependent upon" the gorge parkway. And what "findings" would those be?

A very good map (made new, not some cobbed together version of an old one) clearly showing tourist attractions throughout the County and the roads to get to them, made readily available to every tourist arriving here--even at a cost of a million or two or more--would put us further ahead economically, I believe. The map itself should be of a quality that would make it a keepsake, a souvenir, an advertisement for our region. And the map could largely pay for itself from contributions made by the attractions listed & shown, restaurants, gift shops, and so on. NTCC [Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp.] should pick up a share as should OPRHP & NYPA [New York Power Authority].

Anyway--that's my take on it."

"See more articles from The+Niagara+Falls+Reporter+(Niagara+Falls%2c+NY)

Percy, NTCC squander city share of casino $$.(EDITORIAL)

Article from:
The Niagara Falls Reporter (Niagara Falls, NY)
Article date:
July 22, 2008

Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. CEO John Percy's attempts to justify his squandering of nearly $3 million in city casino and bed tax money would be laughable, were it not so tragic.

Using figures cooked up from who knows where, Percy claimed the NTCC brought in $46 million in tourism dollars last year. Knowing there is no way to possibly verify the number, we were frankly surprised he didn't just say he brought in $100 million.

The NTCC is a state agency. Why the city of Niagara Falls has to pay for its entire operating budget is a question that has never been answered satisfactorily. A quick glance at the literature put out by the organization shows that it spends as much of its resources promoting the canal in Lockport, Fort Niagara in Youngstown and the Wine Trail out someplace where they don't have any sidewalks as it does promoting Niagara Falls.

While Percy pointed to targeted advertising purchased in places like Cleveland and Pittsburgh, you're far more likely to see television commercials for the Seneca Niagara Casino in those places than you are to see any taxpayer-funded NTCC advertising.

The organization spends quite a lot on Percy's frequent trips abroad, ostensibly to promote the Niagara region to potential tourists in Europe, India and elsewhere. Of course, there is no way to determine whether or not his taxpayer-funded travels result in a single tourist coming here who wouldn't have come otherwise, but perhaps from Percy's perspective that's the beauty part.

Percy said the numbers he cooked up are based on research conducted by Niagara University. He doesn't say what standards the students or professors or whoever used, which raises many interesting questions.

For instance, Percy claimed that hotel occupancy was up by 7.6 percent in 2007 over 2006, but didn't say how many more rooms were rented. Did the number take into account the closure of the Ramada, the Holiday Inn or the two riverfront hotels formerly operated by John Prozeralik? Clearly, fewer hotels open will result in a higher occupancy rate for those that remain, even if the number of visitors remains exactly the same.

"This is only a snapshot," Percy said in issuing his report. "I could go on and on about what this agency and our staff actually does."

We wish he would.

Because, for the life of us, we can't figure it out."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Garden Rant: Sustainable Sites Folks say "Landscapes Give Back!"

Garden Rant: Sustainable Sites Folks say "Landscapes Give Back!"
"The most compelling argument for sustainable landscapes, and the slogan splashed across SSI literature, is that Landscapes Give Back. They give back in cleaner water and air, cooler cities, mitigation of climate change (all that sequestering of carbon), resource conservation and regeneration, greater energy efficiency, habitat conservation and biodiversity, lower costs and improved performance from stormwater management, and better living conditions. Whew"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Robert Moses Parkway and the Handicapped

We share those concerned about the handicapped should the Niagara Heritage Partnership proposal for parkway removal and trail creation along the top of the gorge between Niagara Falls and Lewiston become a reality. From very early on they considered where along the gorge, and how, access for the handicapped, elderly, and wheelchair accessibility could be maintained or created. Their proposal maintains vehicle access to five locations in the first four miles of the gorge north from downtown Niagara Falls. They are: at Schoellkopf Geological Museum, Whirlpool State park, Devil's Hole State Park, and at the Power Vista (both upper buildings and lower river dock access). Trails, too, would be open and the overlook just south of Whirlpool would be modified to make viewing from wheelchairs possible. Wheelchair access for those not depending on vehicle transportation would be possible at several points from city streets. We support plans for an elevator to the gorge bottom at Schoellkopf, which we're certain will confirm to codes pertaining to the handicapped.

Quite some time ago (February 28, 2000) we wrote to the Center For Independent Living in Niagara Falls and asked for help with information such as slope-gradients, surfacing, and so on for trails, so that we could recommend what is needed for wheelchair use and, at some future date, the wheelchair athlete, but received no response. We'd be very pleased if you would like to work with us in arriving at some creative solutions to the problems faced by the handicapped when they have the desire to enjoy being in nature, the environment we hope to extend. Please call 791-4611, or email niagaraheritage@aol.com if you are interested.

Bob Baxter
Conservation Chair