officials need to back Moses removal
News, 8 October 2000
In a recent letter published in local newspapers,
Village of Lewiston Mayor Richard Soluri stated that the Village Board is
opposed to the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway. Since the mayor did not present any rationale to support this
position, I can only surmise that the decision came without consideration of the
many strong arguments in favor of parkway removal.
At best, it seems to be a knee-jerk reaction induced by an unfounded fear
of change. At worst,
it is an example of shortsighted, provincial thinking and a lack of will
to confront the real issues that are at stake here.
Mr. Soluri and the board are, of course,
to be highly commended for the marvelous transformation of Center Street that
has come about under their leadership. These
enhancements have helped to restore the beauty and re-invigorate the community
pride of this historic village. Lewiston
finally has awoken to the fact that it has what everybody, everywhere, is
seeking today--small town charm, a sense of history, and buildings and streets
of an intimate, inviting human scale.
People want to come to Lewiston, some for the many
fine shops and restaurants, others simply to enjoy an escape from our grim,
deteriorating cities and insulated, impersonal suburbs.
Some people, perhaps the mayor and board members, seem to think that if
the Robert Moses Parkway were gone, fewer people would come to Lewiston and
spend money there. The millions of
visitors who come to Niagara Falls would somehow be unable or unwilling to use
alternate routes that would, at most, add three or four minutes to the trip.
The reality is, it's not any particular road that
brings people to Lewiston, it's what Lewiston has to offer that brings them
there. If the Robert Moses Parkway
were to vanish tomorrow, do you know what?
People would still come to Lewiston.
In fact, with the parkway gone, replaced by hiking and biking trails
through a magnificent 6.5-mile
gorge-top park, I would venture to guess that even more people would visit
Those who want to come by car would still be able to
come by car, using Lewiston Road, Hyde Park Boulevard, and the I-190.
More importantly, we would now have a whole new group of visitors coming
to the area, people who actually prefer to get out of their cars and experience
nature up close and personal. Many
of these would be young, upscale travelers looking for outdoor adventures and
the kinds of amenities offered by Lewiston.
They would be people with lots of disposable income eager to dispose of
it here. Others would be families
with young children, looking to take advantage of a day-long hiking or biking
experience that leads them from Niagara Falls right onto the streets of Lewiston
and its enticing antique stores, bakeries, restaurants, coffee houses, and other
Although it may not be a concern to Mayor Soluri and
the Village Board, I would like to see the City of Niagara Falls experience some
of Lewiston's good fortune and prosper once again. The largest and fastest-growing segments of the tourism
industry today are "eco-tourism" and "heritage tourism."
Niagara Falls and Lewiston, indeed, the whole greater Niagara area, have
much to offer in both these regards. We
should be working together to tap into this booming market.
Replacing a decrepit, underused roadway with a unique, world class park
seems like a "no brainer." Every
travel guide in the world would tout the stunning scenery of its trails.
With open access to a gorge-top waterfront, Niagara
Falls’ forlorn Main Street could thrive once again. The whole ambiance of the downtown area would change, with
hikers and bicyclists rambling off the trails to patronize street-side
shops and cafes. New businesses would spring up to cater to this clientele.
Perhaps even Lewiston residents would once again venture down to Main
Street and spend an afternoon.
The Robert Moses Parkway must go.
It is a barrier to our beautiful gorge and waterfront as well as a
barrier to our potential for an unprecedented regional renaissance.
Yes, for some people in Lewiston and Youngstown, the Parkway is a
convenience, a nice pleasant drive that shaves a few minutes off travel time and
avoids some of the unpleasant realities of a struggling Niagara Falls.
But in the big picture, the road has outlived its usefulness. Today, it stands mainly as a monument to a failed 1950s
vision of a future that never came
to be. The time has come to embrace
a new vision.
I strongly urge Mayor Soluri and the Village of
Lewiston Board to reconsider their position on the Parkway. As a member of the Niagara Heritage Partnership, I invite
them, and anyone else who may be interested in this issue, to visit our website
at www.niagaraheritage.org. There
you will find answers to just about any questions or concerns you may have about
parkway removal and the struggle to restore Niagara’s natural grandeur and
Robert H. Borgatti,
Lewiston, New York