Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Niagara Community Forum Guest View

View of the Robert Moses State Parkway looking...Image via Wikipedia
Reconfigure Robert Moses Parkway

The Robert Moses Parkway presents an almost continuous barrier between the city and its waterfront. So egregious has been the intrusion that the most important planning efforts of the last two decades have all suggested ways to mitigate the impact of the Parkway. These include the Niagara Falls , Waterfront Master Plan by Sasaki Associates (1992), the Citizens Map of Niagara Falls by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust (1997), the Jerde Partnership development plan for Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp. (1998),and the Main Street Plan by the City of Niagara Falls. (2001).

A range of treatment options should be considered to reduce the negative impact of the Parkway on the waterfront environment and as a barrier between city neighborhoods and the river, falls, and gorge. These should include elimination of lanes, removal of sections of the highway, reduction of speed limits, and introduction of at-grade intersections with the intent of reducing or eliminating automobile traffic and increasing pedestrian access. The issue requires a great deal of additional technical work, design study, and public discussion. It will almost surely involve different approaches in different locations and contexts. But given the Parkway’s limited value for transportation and its substantial conflicts with the goals of waterfront redevelopment in Niagara Falls, a systematic reconfiguration of the Parkway is an absolute requirement of this strategy.

This nonsense is approaching 20 years and it has been almost 40 since the city was cut off from its waterfront. Business districts have failed, neighborhoods have been lost, neighborhoods continue to deteriorate and taxes are on the rise.

How long must we wait for our State to get on board and do what is right for the County of Niagara? The scoping process on the sections of Robert Moses which cuts the city off from its resources should have been completed years ago--not started on October 27th 2010.

The citizens of this city should not be required to continually repeat what has been studied upside down and sideways for what seems like eternity. If the city's application for a $52 million grant, countless references in its Comprehensive Plan and countless study results, are not enough, what is?

End the scoping and start planning for our economic future.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Facts About The Niagara River Gorge Rim Study To Restore Native Landscapes

Niagara Glen features many rapids downstream o...Image via Wikipedia
I was surprised to read a recent Niagara Gazette letter that stated the Wild Ones Niagara (WON) chapter is “made up of individuals who, by and large, belong to the Niagara Heritage Partnership (NHP). That is not true. The letter also said, “NHP joined forces with the national Wild Ones organization in an effort to give new life to their endeavor [to remove the Robert Moses Parkway].” Again, not true. We don’t sell or divulge member information, so I’m not sure how the letter writer, Michael Parsnick, came to those conclusions.

Here are the facts. If you join a Wild Ones Chapter, you have also joined the National organization. WON has 57 members. Four members (0.07%) belong to NHP. Recently, Wild Ones National surveyed their 2,000+ members asking why they joined. The main responses were an interest in regional native plants and wanting to learn more about them.

The Wild Ones Niagara study, Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim, is not “duplication.” In the last twelve years, no one has provided the public with any socioeconomic statistics or revealed what educational and professional opportunities could occur if an ecological restoration along the Niagara River Gorge Rim included only a non-motorized, active transportation trail.

Wild Ones Niagara hired an environmental design firm from Syracuse, NY, EDR, to research the economic benefits of replacing the current conditions along the gorge rim with restored native landscapes replete with active modes of recreation—walking, hiking, and bicycling. Some call it eco-tourism, heritage tourism, cultural tourism, active tourism, or creative tourism. We call it raising our quality of life and creating professional career opportunities for current and future residents. Niagara rising after Love Canal.

WON is advocating for an ecological restoration of the botanically unique gorge and gorge rim landscapes, not Robert Moses Parkway removal. Our mission statement, “Create a sense of place through regional native plants, ecological restoration, conservation biodiversity, and open space preservation” clearly reflects our intentions, objectives, and goals.

Before receiving any Niagara River Greenway Funding, we provided a requested statement to the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee that clearly said our project is a study. It is not about an action. The study, in progress since March, is examining the potential educational, social, economic, and environmental benefits of conservation biodiversity, open space preservation, restoring the Niagara Gorge Rim.

Before presenting our project to The Niagara River Greenway Commission, we obtained The Seattle Mobility Plan and research from the Trust for Public Land, a national organization endorsed by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership as an Authority. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is a business leadership organization. The information, provided by national and world experts, is on our website, www.wildonesniagara.org

According to a document prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI, University of Massachusetts, Amherst), the economic benefits of “maintaining the natural environment” are measurable. It’s called environmental economics. PERI’s report, The NYS Park System: An Economic Asset to the Empire State, “challenges the presumption that there are stark trade-offs between generating jobs and protecting the environment.” In addition, it says, “quality of life in New York improve[s], and thereby influences business location decisions and the ability to attract a high-quality workforce.”

Other research has found many positive socioeconomic benefits could occur and significantly improve the quality of life for our residents and our region if the NHP proposal and our study were embraced, implemented, and marketed.

Wild Ones Niagara has systematically provided the public with well-documented facts, not Chicken Little antics. A study to restore the native landscapes between Niagara Falls, NY and Lewiston carries substantial socioeconomic merit. High paying professional careers, education opportunities for our young people, quality of life through natural ecological services, and the revitalization of urban centers are a few of the opportunities noted by land planners around the world. Our Wild Ones study could literally change how we live in our region.

We believe an informed public is empowered and agree with Mr. Parsnick that being “vigilant” is important, especially when it concerns the local officials he referenced.  All bureaucrats have an obligation to be fully informed about an issue. If they don’t like what they hear, they still have an obligation to tell you everything so you can decide. In our opinion, it is a sad commentary on any elected official’s integrity if they refuse to respect information and attempt to denigrate and suppress it.

UB President, John Simpson summarized it best when he said, “It is hard to understand a logic based on an unwillingness to change an obvious failed status quo.” So, why would some elected officials deliberately place our greatest asset--the City of Niagara Falls, the waterfalls, the gorge, and rim—“in a remarkably disadvantaged position?” Why would any elected official attempt to “hamstring one of our best opportunities” for economic development, something that has the potential to benefit everyone?

Merely keeping what we have now without exploring all of the opportunities for ecological and economic excellence is discrimination. It suppresses. We feel an informed public coupled with documented, authoritative information is a civic right. You have a right to know all the facts and socioeconomic possibilities that could occur with a fully restored Niagara Gorge Rim.

Michelle Vanstrom, President, Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter and
National Board Member, Wild Ones Native Plants, Natural Landscapes 
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Niagara Falls, NY Author Paul Gromosiak Discusses Tabloid "Reporting"

Niagara Falls, in front the American Falls, in...Image via Wikipedia
The editor of a local "Tabloid"continues to sit on his throne judging people with bias and lies. He presents himself as an expert on just about everything and relentlessly spins every week in his publication.

Yes, I did write some articles for his paper when it first came out,but stopped when I wasn't remunerated. I was never a columnist for the Niagara Gazette. Yes, I did write some articles for the The Buffalo News"I stopped when I began working on another book about the falls.

The editor of the tabloid said I didn't write a book in the past ten years. I wrote three. He said all my are out of print. Only one of my nine books is out of print. And I still have the same publisher. He sometimes refers to my books as pamphlets; then other times as books. Does he know the difference?

One time the editor called me a "know-it-all." Then in another publication he used me as an accurate source.

Once again attacking my work, he said I never mentioned Pontiac's Rebellionin my book Water Over. On page 45 of my book, it says, "on September 14, 1763, as a part of Pontiac's Rebellion, a group of young, dissident Seneca men, angry with the British for no longer paying them to assist with the operation of the portage around the gorge and falls, ambushed a wagon train just above the"Devils Hole"

In his July 12-July 26, 2000 issue, the editor described my book, Nature's Niagara, as "an invaluable resource for amateur geologists, bird watchers and other fans of nature, as well as a companion for a quiet stroll on or a fishing expedition to the Devil's Hole.

I would like to challenge the editor to make a list of all his positive contributions to the City of Niagara Falls. I will make a list of my contributions. Then let neutral parties compare the lists to determine who has done more. I would like my list to include Niagara Falls State Park

The editor calls his tabloid a newspaper. Well, from what I understand, a newspaper prepares its articles by interviewing people about whom it is reporting. I was never contacted by anyone at the tabloid.

The editor often calls people negative names. It exhibits a lack of good taste and intelligence.

Recently, the editor called the mayor of Niagara falls a "moron," more than once. Use of that term is an insult to both the mayor and mentally challenged people.

The mayor is intelligent, honest and dedicated to improving the City of Niagara Falls. He deserves the respect due any properly elected official. I am sure he respects disagreements.

Paul Gromosiak
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