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Additional Greenway Commentary

October 2004


The recent Gazette feature, “Divided on Moses,” and its related articles presented an outstanding overview of the Niagara Heritage Partnership proposal for parkway removal and natural landscape restoration along the gorge rim.  It was comprehensive, providing information that enabled readers to see an assortment of facts sorted into clear perspectives.  It also included a fair sampling of opposing views.

            To amplify and respond to several parts of the feature: NHP strongly supports Mayor Anello’s plan for parkway removal south of Findley Drive.  We believe the plan speaks to his vision and courage, and we look forward to seeing the concrete dug out, the Whirlpool overpass being dismantled, and a Frederick Law Olmsted parkland emerging, fully accessible to tourists and residents, with ample provisions for handicapped and wheelchair visitors.  Undoubtedly, Niagara Falls residents will support this initiative and, like NHP, will stand ready to help it become a reality.  We do not, however, share Anello’s ideas about what should happen to the parkway north of Findley, and will continue to advocate its removal for reasons we’ve often stated.

            Lewiston Village Mayor Soluri was quoted as saying, “I met with Baxter and that whole group over and over,” and also said he was tired of talking about the issue.  He has not, however, met with me or any group of NHP members to discuss the issue, not even once, let alone “over and over.”  So if he’s tired of talking about the issue, it’s certainly not from talking to us.  We remain open to such a discussion.  This refusal to be informed about an issue before opposing it may extend to Assemblywoman DelMonte and Senator Maziarz.  DelMonte participated in a meeting between State Parks and Lewiston officials where a case for parkway retention could be made.  When we asked that such a meeting be arranged for NHP, she told us not to worry, that public hearings would be held before a decision was made.  They were not. Maziarz publicly praised a biased survey that favored parkway retention.  In spite of these actions, both DelMonte and Maziarz enthusiastically endorsed Gov. Pataki’s idea for a lake-to-lake greenway, DelMonte announcing in recent campaign literature she is “working to develop” this greenway, under the heading of “Revitalizing Tourism.”  Given these endorsements, we invite DelMonte and Maziarz to refocus their perspectives, to recognize the NHP proposal as an appeal for a genuine greenway along the Niagara gorge, as part of the Pataki concept for a greenway lake-to-lake--and, because they both serve on committees concerned with tourism, Maziarz as chair of the Senate committee, to thoroughly investigate the potential for ecotourism in our region, an important component of our proposal.

            The Gazette article reported that, when it was suggested that State Parks had never seriously considered the NHP proposal, Wendy Gibson, Park’s spokesperson, became indignant and said the idea was “laughable.”  Without evidence to refute the charge, she resorted to attitude and ridicule.  The so-called pilot, however, was never intended as a test, but a solution, a compromise, and so, naturally, no other options were considered.  The pilot was a sham from the start, which we indicated in a March 2001 letter to Tom Lyons, State Parks Director of Environmental Management.  Gibson now speaks of the pilot as a “compromise” they’d hoped would be acceptable.  This reveals her continuing failure (and that of State Parks) to understand the NHP proposal.

            In this case, Gibson’s job as spokesperson is to defend the indefensible.  The State’s December 2003 evaluation of its “pilot” is a lame attempt to justify their decision to make it permanent.  The NHP response to the evaluation report and the Lyon’s letter are posted at  Readers can check out these documents to decide for themselves the extent to which the State’s report makes sense and whether or not the NHP proposal was given any consideration.

            As a judge of what’s “laughable,” Wendy Gibson probably knows the State’s evaluation report would win top prize in that category, though she can’t say so.  But when those in power make bad decisions and then scramble around trying to justify them, it’s never funny.

            If Gibson grows indignant over NHP’s refusal to accept State Park’s faulty reasoning re the gorge parkway, how will she spin our continued criticism of State Park’s failed stewardship of Niagara’s parks?  Goat Island, the Niagara Reservation, is being steadily transformed into an amusement venue, violating both the letter and spirit of the law that established it as a natural park, to be free of commercial exploitation according to the philosophy of Frederick Law Olmsted;  Parks seems to casually accept their maintenance garage being located on the unique gorge rim; the over forty year desecration of Devil’s Hole State Park by parkway lanes and the NYPA access road continues; a toxic brew seeps out of the Hyde Park Landfill through the gorge walls and into the river a short distance upstream from the public fishing dock.  Are these concerns laughable, too?  Perhaps the Niagara Greenway Commission will consider these transgressions and decide otherwise.



Bob Baxter, Conservation Chair

October 18, 2004




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Niagara Heritage Partnership

MPO Box 1495

Niagara Falls, New York 14302-1723