Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Robert Moses Parkway Scoping

Mr. Tom Donohue
Niagara Gorge Corridor Project
40 LaRiviere   Suite 350
Buffalo, NY 14202

Re: Alternative 6
North Robert Moses Parkway Scoping

February 27, 2013

Dear Mr. Donohue:

Removal of the Robert Moses Parkway is about creating something unique—and, restoring the gorge rim landscape makes economic, environmental, and ecological sense. “It’s the most elegant choice.”

Some may not want the road removed for self-serving reasons, but to deliberately ignore, or mock and marginalize, the cost factor comparisons, the ecological services a restoration provides, and the socioeconomic, quality of life facts does everyone in this struggling region and economy a major disservice, as is adhering to the outdated MOU—a pre-Niagara River Greenway / NYPA relicensing document.

It's a given that removal is the most cost-effective alternative, but to replace it with a different road defeats economic business sense. It's a given that restoration could create high-paying careers for the next 100 years. It will take longer than that to see our Old Growth Forest being restored, the one cut in two by the Parkway when it was built.

The principals guiding our Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Niagara River Greenway list the natural environment first, yet it is the last one being addressed. I expected better, great things, from both Commissions, from their consultants, and from the people I helped to elect.

“Compromise,” as many have proposed it, is nothing more than politics. It clouds the socioeconomic impacts, benefits, and opportunities for our residents. Those opportunities can infuse billions into our economy, keep our young people here through career employment, keep tourists here longer, provide something to do, protect our botanical wealth and our visual and natural heritage.

Those are all of the issues I’ve heard lamented in the Niagara region and I’ve lived here over 26 years. 

When was the last time anyone asked you to create or do something great? I'm asking. I’m asking you to create something magnificent with the Niagara Gorge Rim. I'm asking each of you to stand up and actually fight for our City and our legacy, our natural landscape. I’m asking you to read the articles and website listed below.

We could go from being the Love Canal disaster story to an ecological and economic innovation, a rebirth, just through the total removal of the gorge parkway section, a redundant road.
It would lift our city from its tainted Love Canal identity and transform us into a leader in ecological restoration. Removal and restoration would advance a green economy, the trajectory of the future happening around the globe.

"Removal and restoration are significant. It’s never been done in the east." Those statements are from a woman Wild Ones Niagara brought to the City, an ecological restoration expert, retired from the Federal Highway Administration.

Everyone wins with removal and restoration, including State Parks. Here are some facts and resources.

If you haven't seen Fading in the Mist. Ask co-producer Bob Borgatti, a Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commissioner, to screen it or send you a copy. It changed my perceptions about the waterfall and the city.

To learn about the benefits of non-motorized trails, see the Rails-to-Trails website. It includes a Federal funding source:

Here are three articles detailing what others have done with road removal and one about the benefits of Urban Parks:  How an inner city freeway disappeared.  Freeway Teardowns A Prudent Choice  Top Freeway Teardowns  Reviving Struggling Urban Areas with Parks

We can become world recognized leaders, ho hum followers, or remain as the uninformed status quo, getting out of everyone's way, getting run over, and known as another missed opportunity region.

Michelle Vanstrom,
Cornell Master Naturalist,
Cornell Plantations Natural Areas Mentor
Former President, Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter
Former National Board Director, Wild Ones Native Plants, Naturals Landscapes,
Creator of the Niagara River Greenway Funded Project: Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Quiz in Logic

Logic Quiz: True or false?

The Robert Moses Parkway is a road. True. (Documented fact, common sense).

The speed limit on the Robert Moses Parkway is 45 mph. True. (Documented fact).

The Robert Moses Parkway blocks access to the Niagara Falls, NY waterfront. True. (Documented fact).

The Robert Moses Parkway is an underutilized road. True. (Documented fact).

There are alternate routes to the villages north of Niagara Falls. True. (Documented fact.)

The Robert Moses is a redundant road. (Documented fact)

The Niagara River (and the Niagara River Gorge) is a Globally Significant Important Bird Area. True. (Documented fact).

The Niagara River Gorge is a calcareous cliff community with rare botanical species. True. (Documented fact).

Threats to calcareous cliff plant communities include run off from salt applications and vehicle carbon emissions. True. (Documented fact).

Ecotourism is a genuine tourism niche. True. (Documented fact).

Ecotourism is the fastest rising tourism market. True. (Documented fact).

Niagara Falls is a globally recognized tourism destination. True. (Documented fact).

Removing the Robert Moses would provide access to the waterfront. True. (Documented fact, common sense).

Removing the Robert Moses would redirect traffic onto Main Street and every business district in Niagara Falls. True. (Documented fact, common and good, fiscally responsible business sense).

Removing the Robert Moses Parkway and ecologically restoring the gorge rim would protect and preserve the rare plants growing in the Niagara River gorge. True. (Documented fact, good ecotourism and good economic sense via ecological service benefits.)

Total removal will cost less than keeping and maintaining or rebuilding the Robert Moses Parkway. True. (Documented fact, common and good business sense).

So therefore the conclusion made by New York State Parks and the City of Niagara Falls is:
Removing the Robert Moses and replacing it with a different road a few feet away—speed limit of less than 45 mph—that will continue to bypass Main Street and every other business district in Niagara Falls, NY is a well thought out, fiscally responsible, ecologically responsible, and an economically sound business idea. True or False?

This is the logic part. True? Or False?

It’s reflects what’s wrong with Niagara Falls, NY: a lack of common sense, fiscally irresponsible, business sense.

There’s something in the water in the falls.

Mini Essay: Epiphany
Now I get it, why key decision makers destroyed my Wild Ones Native Plants, Natural Landscapes Chapter—formerly one of their largest chapters that advocated the National mission for using native plants in landscapes—terminated my $1,000 lifetime membership and my seat as a National Board Director. (Documented facts).

I can think. Plus, I did my homework. (Documented fact).