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Lewiston officials need to back Moses removal

Buffalo 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 Lewiston. 

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 quaint shops.

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  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 economic health.

Robert H. Borgatti, Lewiston, New York  


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