Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letter to Town of Lewiston, NY

26 May 2010
Dear Supervisor Reiter,

During your recent service as Highway Supervisor, I was told that you supported the Niagara Heritage Partnership’s proposal of reclamation and open space preservation along the Niagara Gorge Rim.

When the media stated you were the new Town of Lewiston Supervisor, I experienced a tremendous surge of optimism for the Niagara River Greenway and our region. I believed someone was finally elected in Lewiston that was progressive, an independent thinker, and a man of positive action. You were approachable, quick to return my phone calls, and gracious when I asked for your letter of support for the Wild Ones Niagara Greenway project, Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim.

You and I created history in the Niagara River Greenway. We accomplished something that the entire Greenway process was unable to do. We breached political constraints and we opened municipal boundaries of cooperation.

Wild Ones Niagara accomplished another first in the Greenway. We obtained a major private investor with global associations in the Hospitality Industry. They have a keen interest in the Niagara River Greenway and in preserving the natural landscapes of the Niagara Gorge Rim. 

I can understand why you felt “blindsided” by my reading of EDR’s 18 May 2010 letter at the Niagara River Greenway meeting. Can you understand that I felt blindsided when I read in the Niagara Gazette that the Town of Lewiston was not only planning a dog park, but also intending to create an access road from the Robert Moses Parkway to the upper parking level at Artpark?

I asked EDR to write the letter, not to hurt Lewiston, but to protect what I viewed as yet another attempt to stop the Wild Ones Niagara study. It’s a study, Steve, based on an open space preservation vision. At its core is a positive economic benefit assessment for all of Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and the Niagara River Greenway.

There is a provision on page 35 of the Niagara River Greenway Plan that states under "Criteria for Project Submission:
Chapter 4 Action Plan:
9. Consideration of other planning efforts There has been a great deal of effort and thought put into various plans for each of the municipalities along the Niagara River Greenway corridor, as well
as many planning efforts that cross municipal boundaries...Topic specific studies, including those dealing with stormwater management, remedial action plans, brownfield studies, heritage tourism, and other plans should also be taken into consideration. Proposals for projects should be built upon the work that has been completed, and be consistent with local goals, values and visions, while meeting best practices and models set forth…”

We believe our project deserves that consideration. While I feel you dismissed my fully funded project, I do believe that I owe you an apology. I should have immediately contacted you and (NY) State Parks to ask if you would please table the Dog Park at the Plateau or evaluate an alternative location--Joseph Davis State Park. Joe Davis has all of the amenities a dog park needs: ample space, water and electricity, fencing in the defunct pool area, and parking. They already conduct dog races there.

I also should have provided you and State Parks with articles about the value of grasslands. Did you know that grasslands “provide valuable ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, stormwater control, water filtration, absorption of air pollutants, oxygen production, and habitat? Native grasslands provide opportunities for wild life, especially migratory land birds. Grassland habitats also provide social benefits like enhanced recreational opportunities and education.”(Link here: Wildflower Magazine, Summer 2010 Vol.26, No. 4 pg. 24-27)

"At the end of the day, [it’s not that our project is reclamation and restoration; it’s also about education.] Education in these financially challenging times is what is going to save us." (Wildflower Magazine)

Will you please extend your continued support for our project by tabling the dog park at the Plateau until we complete our end-product, an interactive media presentation and economic assessment?  The completed study will document how tremendous the economic benefits of a fully restored gorge rim are to you, the Town of Lewiston, Niagara Falls, the Niagara River Greenway, and the region. 

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