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Audience questions from the Environmental Leadership Institute public forum at Niagara University (26 March 2003) that time did not permit answering:

Q         Why is the “tear up the parkway” contingent so disinterested in the wishes of the locals?

A         To which wishes and which locals do you refer?  Please check the NHP list of groups supporting gorge rim restoration, where at least a dozen are local.  Then scroll through the online petition where many local residents and former residents are supporting the removal project.  Keep in mind that about 2,000 additional individuals, most of whom are local, have signed paper petitions in favor of the proposal—and that the entire “contingent” to which you refer is made up of locals.

Q         Why are so many outsiders being brought into this issue?  They have no knowledge of the area.

A         So you believe that only people who live in or next to the Everglades or Yellowstone should be permitted to weigh in on environmental issues facing those areas?  It seems that many are ready with both hands to welcome the money of those who visit here, but not their ideas about the natural landscapes which might attract more of them to our region for longer periods of time.  What special knowledge do you have, as a local, that supports your opposition?

Q         Why have the Canadians not closed their comparable highway?

A         The Canadians don’t have a comparable highway.  See “ Reply to Dumbrowsky"

Q         How do you justify the inconvenience and safety that will result to the hundreds or thousands of daily commuters who now travel north and southbound on the six miles of parkway in question?

A         We believe that “thousands” is an exaggeration, perhaps reality times four.  Further, we believe that the benefits, creating watershed and natural gorge protection from the damage caused by normal parkway maintenance, and the restoration of natural landscapes combined with the potential for economic revitalization of the region, especially the city of Niagara Falls, simply outweighs the minimal inconvenience of commuters taking one of the alternative routes.  The “safety” part of the question is unclear.

Q         Why tear it down???  It’s there! At this time it’s needed more than ever.  The cities to the north need it.  The casino is here and with the possibility of the ferry from Toronto it should be restored the way it was.  The state can’t afford removing it.  It’s progress and it’s there.

A         If the existence of a thing is rationale for keeping it, the Berlin Wall would still be standing.  There are no cities to the north, only towns and villages, unless you’re counting Toronto.  The International Fast Ferry has problems of its own, both environmental and economic.  Please read Fast Ferry Opposition. 

Q         Why is Lewiston Road continually addressed as the only alternative route if the parkway were to be removed?

A         It’s the next route that commuters focus on because of their selfish obsession with shaving several minutes from a drive that’s less than 20 minutes in the first place, even starting from Youngstown, New York.  Other routes into the heart of Niagara Falls from the north include Hyde Park Blvd.,  (turn right on nay avenue toward Main), Highland Avenue (11th Street), Lockport Road, and the I-90 to Pine Avenue/Niagara Falls Blvd., or Buffalo Avenue.

Q         How many environmental groups have endorsed complete removal of all four lanes from Niagara Falls to Lewiston?

A         The quick answer is 28 environmental groups, but this is misleading, since one of these is Great Lakes United, for example, which is itself a coalition of well over a hundred groups, though not all of them “environmental.”  The total number of supporting groups is 47, block clubs, bicycling, business, hiking and other organizations.  See Groups supporting NHP proposal on the  Home Page.  Some of these are also coalitions as noted elsewhere.

Q         Isn’t this road considered to be a scenic route by Triple A?  Why would we want to remove such a beautiful route?

A         Yes, it is scenic because of the beautiful natural scenery, not because a road runs through it or because of the vehicles on the road.  The presence of the road and the vehicles actually detract from the natural landscape.  What is seen while driving the route is very limited.  Since the route access to the gorge would still exist with it gone, why not remove such an ugly thing?

Q         What economic benefit would this (parkway removal) bring to Lewiston, Youngstown, and Fort Niagara.

A         Tour coaches would continue to travel to these destinations by alternate routes as discussed elsewhere.  The economic benefit to Lewiston and Youngstown would be realized from increased numbers of ecotourists spending additional time in the region.  Lewiston and Youngstown, already linked by a cycling path, would be destinations and stopover points along the trail.  Check endorsing organizations, especially the cycling and hiking groups already in support.  See Groups supporting NHP proposal on the  Home Page This would be another marketing tool, not only for these villages, but for the rest of the region as well, with our wonderful park system and outdoor areas.

Q         What consideration, if any, has been given to the advantage of keeping the artery open in the event of emergencies, including terrorist events?

A         Our consideration had to do with the increased security for the power plant with parkway lanes closed to vehicular traffic.  Please see “Terrorists, Casinos, Creating Jobs."  An overall assessment of security concerns is currently being conducted by the NYS Power Authority as part of their relicensing responsibilities.

Q         What benefit to our economy will the destroying of our infrastructure be?  Will hikers bring in all that much money?

A         The short answers are “large benefits,” and “yes,” though we prefer to think of our proposal as advocating the restoration of a small, but significant portion of our natural environment, rather than “destroying our infrastructure.”  The existence of an enormous population of ecotourists, over and beyond those tourists who currently visit the Niagara Frontier, is undeniable.  For evidence of this, search “ecotourism” on the web.  Hiking and cycling trails along the gorge rim, through a vehicle-free, natural environment, would have a high potential of attracting these visitors for sustained periods of time.  These include hikers, cycling groups, bird watchers, and others, often families, who enjoy “green” vacations.  Again, please check the supporting groups; be aware that some groups, such as The New York Bicycling Coalition, for example, is combined of six organizations.  (The present “pilot program” is not a measure of this potential.  Check Pilot Project Response.

Q         Why go back to “nature?”  This is a tourist site and should be treated as such.  Why have a park with no access points?

A         See the previous answer.  Your second question reveals your extremely limited knowledge about our proposal, which incorporates numerous vehicle access points and has from the beginning.  Please read Library Comments 31 May 2000.

Q         Where do you propose to get the funds to tear out four lanes of highway and to build a park area?

A          If the communities of the region could present a unified vision of these lanes being removed and the gorge rim restored, the funding possibilities for such a project would be impressively broad.  This vision would include improved alternate routes so that northern towns and villages would be assured of their economic security.  Such funding sources, might consist of, but is certainly not limited to, the following: the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council; the Department of Transportation; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; the Superfund (Albany legislation for refinancing and reform pending—Part AA, Section 1); the Environmental Protection Fund; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the National Park Service (matching funds); the Environmental Protection Agency (education to promote environmental stewardship); Watershed and Clean Water Stewardship Grants—USDA Forest Service, NE area.  Brownfield grant money may be available for specific areas, such as Devil’s Hole.  It is likely that there would be some level of participation by the NYS Power Authority.  This abbreviated list of possibilities would be much expanded through the efforts of professional grant people.




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Niagara Heritage Partnership

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Niagara Falls, New York 14302-1723