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quality of life facts does everyone in this struggling region and economy a major disservice, as is adhering to the outdated MOU—a pre-Niagara River Greenway / NYPA relicensing document.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

1 comment:

Evi said...

A well written piece, Michelle. Very difficult to make headways in the current climate, if not always. Nature always seems to take second place in everything. Yet we are so entwined with it, why can't people understand that?