parkway, return to nature
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
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