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Buffalo News, Sound Off

March 2003 



Dear Editor:

The Niagara Heritage Partnership is aware of the opposition to its proposal for Robert Moses Parkway removal and the restoration of a natural gorge rim, so Mr. Dumbrowsky’s “reminder” in a recent Niagara Sound-Off was redundant.  What we are not aware of, and Dumbrowsky did not provide it, is a coherent argument that establishes a sound rationale for the opposition.  To state that the Canadians have it right” and to then talk about their two-lane road leading to Niagara-On-The-Lake is to offer an irrelevant comparison.  The NHP proposal involves the US gorge rim between Niagara Falls and Lewiston, New York, a fact which seems clear to Dumbrowsky, since he mentions it three times in his remarks.  It should have been just as clear to him that a more appropriate comparison would have been that length of the Canadian gorge rim between Niagara Falls, Ontario and Queenston.


From the falls to nearly across from Whirlpool State Park, the Canadian gorge is crowded to within a road’s width of the edge with commercial development, casinos, shops, restaurants, hotels, motels, private residences, a Buddhist Temple, and so on—to the extent that the National Park Service has classified the park on our side of the river as threatened and endangered because of visual contamination.  Is this getting it right?  Not even all Canadians think so.  Two groups from Ontario have endorsed the Partnership proposal.


Dumbrowsky also refers to the “faux wilderness” along the Niagara gorge.  “Faux,” French for “false,” seems an odd word choice.  Is the ten-acre old growth forest at DeVeaux a false forest?  Are the centuries-old white cedars clinging to gorge cliffs fake?  Are nearly 200 species of migrating birds that follow river foliage spring and fall not real birds?  The National Audubon Society and other organizations international in breadth evidently believe the birds to be real, since they have designated the Niagara River and its shorelines a Globally Significant Important Bird Area, the first international area so designated.  While the Partnership has readily admitted that the natural gorge environment has been severely compromised over the years, we still believe what has survived makes it worthy of preservation and restoration.


The “forty-foot-wide…strip of asphalt” Dumbrowsky derides as an insignificant area to reclaim, together with medians and roadsides, would add about 300 acres to this valuable wildlife habitat.  (The parkway is 50’wide and  concrete, incidentally.  Over forty years of deterioration has been remedied with such extensive asphalt patching that Dumbrowsky thinks it’s an asphalt road.)


His accusing the NHP proposal of “cutting off residents and tourists from easy access” to the gorge is simply incorrect.  Our proposal not only provides improved access, but is more accommodating to the handicapped and wheelchair user than what currently exists.  That is one reason the Injured Workers of New York, Inc. supports our proposal.  A complete listing of supporting groups is available at


His comment about Ansley Wilcox, Niagara’s first parks chairman in the 1880s, wanting a “parkway” connecting parks is misleading.  There were no cars then.  He belittles the NHP premise that the creation of a long gorge rim park has the potential to attract ecotourists, an enormous market population from which our region could derive large benefit.


While some opposition to the NHP proposal is expected, Dumbrowsky’s namecalling and selective, inaccurate presentation of information doesn’t help to resolve issues.  Calling our rationale “self-serving rhetoric,” for example, accomplishes nothing.  We have clearly stated our position, its fundamental opposition to inappropriate commercial exploitation of the gorge rim, such as trinket, novelty, and snack stands, amusement rides, and so on.  His mention of “future gorge-related attractions” suggests he favors such exploitation.  If this is the case, he should say so.  If he has any connections to those who would pursue these goals, he should reveal them.  His curious objections to the NHP proposal could be seen as making more sense in that context.



Bob Baxter




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