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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