Earlier this month, Francis W. Shedd wrote a letter to the editor opposing the removal
of the Robert Moses Parkway from Niagara Falls to Lewiston, mainly because he believes it
"is one of the most important avenues we have to our downtown area."
For Mr. Shedd, who lives in Lewiston and works in Niagara Falls, and for
live below the escarpment, it's true that the parkway is an important avenue. It's
convenient. It's a toll-free, 6.5 mile stretch of concrete roadway without stop signs or
traffic lights, from which drivers can catch glimpses of the lower Niagara River,
the wooded gorge and the falls themselves.
I drive it myself because it's convenient and because it's more pleasing to look at the natural gorge landscape than particle board. I never drive it, however,
without thinking that the four lanes of concrete degrade the wilderness of the Niagara
gorge and river, and that Robert Moses has taken from our region a unique gorge-top
environment that could be restored. I'd give up the convenience to see the
Mr. Shedd also wrote that redevelopment plans for Niagara Falls, N.Y., "make it
almost imperative that this parkway" be kept. Since most tourists do not arrive in
Niagara Falls via Lewiston, it's difficult to understand why, in his view, the parkway is
such an "important avenue." Because redevelopment plans involve establishing a
gambling casino on the U.S. side, perhaps the parkway should be examined in that context.
Niagara Falls, N.Y., will either get a casino or it won't. If it does, there might be
traffic flow from Canada along the parkway to the casino. If a casino doesn't get built,
and redevelopment takes place anyway, the parkway might be used as a route for
"people-movers" taking gamblers to the casinos in Canada. In either case, if the
parkway remains, the natural environment will not be restored, the gorge-top landscape
will continue to be devalued by vehicular traffic and, in the second case, thousands of
people will be taken directly to casinos in Canada without knowing that the city of
Niagara Falls, N.Y., exists.
Generally, when gamblers finish gambling, they go home. They might stop for a meal, a
drink or to purchase a T-shirt or an ashtray with a Niagara Falls decal, but that's about
the extent of it.
If the parkway is removed and parkland re-established, visitors will be encouraged to
travel alternative routes through some portion of the city to get to the casinos; and the
natural environment at gorge-top--trees, native, grasses and wildflowers--will be a
long-lasting, self-renewing legacy for generations to come.
Bob Baxter, Ransomville