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Remove the Parkway–Restore a Natural Wonder

A Deveaux Resident Speaks Out 

I am writing in response to several recent letters that have extolled the virtues of the concrete road known as the Robert Moses Parkway. I wish to limit my comments to the measure of the road between Findlay Drive and Devil's Hole. In my opinion, the entire length of the Parkway between these two points should be eliminated. I believe this would be in the best interest of not only the city of Niagara Falls but for all those communities who stand to benefit from tourists who stay in the region longer than a few hours. 

First, I'd like to respectfully but emphatically disagree with some commuters from Lewiston who selfishly say they would miss the majestic view as they drive to work each day. I feel this highway degrades the natural beauty. If a view is what one covets then looking across a sterile expanse of concrete, at even a legal speed, gives only a fleeting glimpse of the magnificent natural wonder known as the Niagara Gorge. Visitors, who are only here on vacation, are missing the total Niagara Frontier experience if all they do is drive by.  Unlike the Canadian side, here, even local residents are prevented from walking from their homes to get to the gorge by fence rails, even though this wonder is but a few yards away. 

I'd like to address the point about serious hikers and bikers not coming in droves with the present partial lane closure. Most serious hikers and bikers travel across the world to witness the natural, aesthetic beauty of a region not just to perform the function of a good ride or hike. Our Falls and Gorge rank with places such as the Grand Canyon and Letchworth Park. The Gorge, with its seasonal blooms, winding paths, and secret hikes down below are not ever experienced by those who drive by and stay but a few hours to see the Falls and then depart. I often think that tourists who do stay longer wonder what "knucklehead" would have suggested such a destructive attack on an area's natural surroundings, especially in the name of progress. 

Unlike the others who have written to keep the Parkway open, I am a long-time resident of Niagara Falls who still lives in what is known as the Deveaux area. As stated in her letter, Ms. Quarantillo wrote that many years ago, Deveaux residents were forced to give up their homes and that the state spent millions of dollars to accomplish this fiasco, all in the name of progress. What progress? All I see is limited access to this natural wonder, which is only yards from my home, unless of course you climb over fences to get there, or go all the way down to Devil's Hole where the overpass is located. Even older people, as well as young families, near the beautiful Hyde Park residential area can walk right from their homes to enjoy that park, we can't.  Somewhere I read that residences near parks or areas that have been restored to their natural beauty increases the value of those properties. Young families around my neighborhood would utilize the Gorge more, if they could just walk over easily instead of risking life and limb by climbing over rails and rushing across a highway. The Deveaux area must have been even more quaint, quiet, and beautiful before that road was built. 

Remember, it was built in the name of progress.  I repeat, what progress? Anyone with even a remote knowledge of business knows that circumventing a business district is a death knell which, in addition to other economic problems, contributed in no small way to the demise of Main Street.  Destruction of a nice neighborhood, taking business off of Main Street, and inhibiting longer stays by not encouraging people to experience a natural wonder known as the Niagara Gorge are not plans that promote progress. I haven't seen any progress, have you? 

At this point I'd like to remind the business community and residents of Lewiston that millions of people from all over the world do not come to see Lewiston, they come to see the natural wonder of the Falls and Gorge area. Once here, they will always find other wonderful places of interest to visit in the entire Niagara region. 

Niagara Falls is the jewel of the area, and must be respected. It is the God given natural beauty of our area that is the main reason why people come. All communities, both large and small, should-be working together to enhance this natural wonder, not selfishly adhere to mistakes that were made long ago. I agree that the Niagara Frontier should be marketed as a total package. We have nature and the glitz of a casino with surrounding towns and villages. We have it all. 

I am old enough to remember the glory days of Niagara Falls in the 1950s. My Mom and Dad told me wonderful stories of the war years. Falls and Main Street were a hustle-bustle of activity and honeymooners from all over the world came here, to Niagara Falls, because they heard or read about the romantic beauty. Clubs like the Cataract House attracted musicians and vocalists, restaurants were booming, shops were busy. What happened? I think we can all agree, it wasn't progress! 

Many of you who have written sound so self centered when speaking of fast routes to Center Street in Lewiston, or scenic views as you get to work in Niagara Falls. I love Lewiston with its charming shops and I go there often, but I find no hardship in going down Lewiston Road to get there. What about a slow route down charming Lewiston Road to Main Street, Niagara Falls? With the Casino and new Train Station, I can foresee new businesses being less afraid to locate here. Instead of writing off Main Street, why not be supportive of the resurgence in economic activity in Niagara Falls. Remember the success of Niagara Falls means success for the entire region. 

As a mother, grandmother, teacher, and a resident of Deveaux, of course I would insist that speed limits be strictly enforced on Lewiston Road, as they are right now, so children attending school at Maple or planning to go to the Gorge would be as safe as those walking to Hyde Park or any other school in the city. I feel this is an important issue and one that can be handled for the benefit of all. 

If that ugly highway disappeared the barriers would come down, and there would be renewed local access to the Gorge for more young families, as well as the elderly, Everyone would have easier access in order to enjoy its vistas, and lovely paths throughout all the seasons. 

Niagara Falls has to be smart this time and restore and preserve the things that make it unique in the world, its natural beauty. Preservation of our waterfront should be a priority, not just for now but for all future generations. Niagara Falls residents should be aware that this is a turning point. We are being given another chance. We have been blessed with God given natural beauty and now we have the added draw of a casino. The move of the Train Station is certainly a long awaited positive force for economic change on Main Street and--if we support removal of that Parkway between Findlay Drive and Devil's Hole, I think this too will have a positive impact on our region. 

I love Niagara Falls, and in response to Ms. Quarantillo, I don't think I'd mind somewhere down the road of life to look into the eyes of my grandchildren and say, "Do you see this magnificent place, these beautiful falls, this ancient view of a carved out river, this pathway where Native Americans and others walked? Do you see the hustle bustle of tourists and residents shopping downtown and on Main Street? This is our city, the jewel of the Niagara Frontier, the Honeymoon Capital of the world; this is Niagara Falls, New York, our hometown.

Beverly Barthel

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