U.S. side only.  See Important Disclaimer on Home Page.

Sign the online petition here


Remove parkway, return to nature

Niagara Gazette, 17 May 2000

I am writing this letter in support of the Niagara Heritage Partnership's proposal to close the Robert Moses Parkway all the way to Lewiston. I feel this effort, in concert with plans to revitalize Main Street, should be heralded as a welcome sign that the time is right for some serious change in philosophy in this fair city of ours.

Years ago we tried to improve Niagara Falls by attempting to sabotage its inherent beauty through urban renewal and failed miserably. In the name of development, we destroyed a lot of the heart that was once the City of Niagara Falls. I fear another mistake might happen with the implementation of some of these new ideas that I keep hearing about in reference to the gorge.

We all know in our hearts what it is that draws people from all over the world to this region. We know what makes this area unique enough to be called a wonder of the world. It is the natural beauty of the region and the majesty of the falls. Its charm transcends the quick-paced, concrete, sterile world that surrounds it. During its heyday, Niagara Falls was the "Honeymoon Capital" of the world. People came here and stayed for a while.

I think it is high time for the powers that be to pay close attention and do it right this time. Everyone who is living in the 21st century should know and understand that nature, untouched, is a very sparse and precious gift right now. There are very few areas left on this planet that can boast of natural beauty that has been left alone, untouched by the ruinous hand of man. People want the opportunity to slow down to experience nature and perhaps escape back to a simpler time. We have what the world wants, nature at its best. We also have a city badly in need of something to make it better, something that makes it appealing enough for people to stay.

God has given us a very special gift, and we need to protect it from further destruction in the name of development or revitalization. What we need to revitalize is Main Street! The architecture alone is worthy of better treatment. It remains as another reminder of a time, not so long ago, when Niagara Falls was a bustling town with people who came to shop and dine after a visit to the natural wonder. They stayed for longer than a quick drive through. Therein lies the answer.

During the Victorian Era, our city was a welcome place to go. You could stroll the gas-lit streets, listen to the sounds of organ grinders, have ice cream at shops on Falls or Main Street, buy warm popcorn and peanuts from a simple street vendor pushing his cart and go for a horse-and-buggy ride through the town to the falls. If you were lucky enough to live in the DeVeaux area, you could walk from your home to the pathway along the gorge and experience God's special gift of the gorge first-hand. it was a simple, peaceful time.

I don't need to describe what our downtown looks like now. The contrast is a harsh reality that those of us who chose to stay here have to suffer through each day. As for DeVeaux residents--and I am one--most of us are locked in. We must hop two fences and race across four lanes of unnecessary roadway in order to experience the quiet calm of a breeze blowing through the trees or take a peaceful walk along the gorge.

To the residents of the DeVeaux area I say, beware. Some of the plans being bandied about want to keep a roadway and create a viewmobile path to replace the parkway. The Heritage Partnership does not want noisy viewmobiles or any further development.  We propose a simple return to nature that, in effect, will enhance the area, improve the quality of life here and, once and for all, give us back access to our gorge.

I say, close the Robert Moses Parkway all at once, not in stages as has been suggested, and let nature take its course. The time is right. The sooner the better. Let's recreate the wonderful, lush, natural wilderness that once was along the gorge all the way to Lewiston and provide peaceful wilderness trails for hiking or biking along the historic gorge trail to Lewiston.

In addition, enforce a slower speed limit down Lewiston Road and detour traffic to Main Street. Revitalize Main Street with a Victorian theme reminiscent of a quieter and more peaceful era. Create shops and businesses there that make it charming enough for people to want to stay and experience a walk back through time. Provide horse-and-buggy rides or tandem bike rides in summer and fall and perhaps sleigh rides in the winter.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren is a prosperous, cleaner and more Earth-friendly city known for its natural beauty and respect for the environment?

Niagara Falls is very special! I feel in my heart that we have what the world wants and needs, and that is to experience the awesome beauty that only God can create. Let's do it right this time.

Beverly Barthel of Niagara Falls is an elementary school teacher at Mount Carmel School and the grandmother of two children who also live in Niagara Falls.


News Clippings




f o r    g e n e r a t i o n s    t o    c o m e


Niagara Heritage Partnership

MPO Box 1495

Niagara Falls, New York 14302-1723