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Insights on Niagara

Niagara Gazette, April 2004           


     As our political and financial leaders parade the rebirth of Niagara, they’ve sold us out to commercialism, pollution and waste disposal.  Once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, our local, state and federal leaders have let our resources be used and abused with no regard to residents. 

     One hurtle in Niagara’s rebirth is the State of New York’s loss-of-direction in dealing with the Robert Moses Parkway.  Did self-interest stories in local newspapers influence the state?  Did financially involved politicians influence the state?  Were corporate puppets set out into the neighborhoods to convince us to run truckloads of traffic over the Parkway through the Gorge?   

     The Niagara Gazette printed many misleading opinions and Guest Views by Lewiston residents that have praised the Gorge section of the Parkway as being essential for hospital emergencies.  In reality, this section of the Parkway is a limited access highway and obstructs Lewiston accident victims seeking a hospital.       

     Many Lewiston residents who oppose the Renaissance of the Niagara Gorge have publicly admitted that they have selfish reasons for keeping the Parkway a high-speed commuter route.  They want a non-stop drive from their home in Lewiston to where they work in Niagara Falls. 

     North-town politicians were adamant about keeping the Gorge Parkway at 55 M.P.H. for tourism.  Aren’t these the same politicians that balance their budgets by how much out-of-town waste is buried in their backyard? 

     Corporate tourism powers some of which hold public office, want the Gorge to be a speedway so they can whisk tourists through a select list of attractions.  This plan is highly supported by our publicly funded, privately run, tourism board.  Once on a bus, tour operators take complete control of where tourists spend their money.  Herding and hoarding of our visitors should not dominate our tourism plan.    

     In a 2/18/04 Gazette Guest View, a past board member of the Niagara Falls Human Rights Commission and Youth Boards tried to convince North End residents that building a truck crossing at our Whirlpool International Railroad Bridge is good for their health and welfare.  “Residents will no longer have to endure the sights and sounds of the trains that they have listened to for 140 years”, the writer also says.  Will this corporate scheme halt our plans to build a train station, which we hope will capitalize on New York City and Upstate tourists from hotspots like Grand Central Station in New York City? 

     The Niagara Falls train depots’ objective is to attract and welcome money-spending tourists that will stimulate the economy from the Gorge in the North End, down Main St., to the Falls.  Trains can also carry 100 times more than trucks and do not congest our streets or highways.  Niagara’s tourist friendly train depot fits aesthetically into Niagara’s portfolio, a truck route doesn’t. 

     Building Niagara into a “smart city” will take honesty and fairness, not wordplay and greed.  Highland Avenue is Lewiston’s shortcut to Memorial Hospital.  This road cuts through a low-income area that should have no problem attracting millions in governmental funds to change the street’s purpose and enhance its economic condition.  Upgrading Highland Avenue like a Hyde Park Blvd. or Niagara Falls Blvd. will bring jobs to that area. 

     The Upper River is another section of the Parkway that can be used more intelligently for tourism growth.  Building attractions on the Upper River waterfront and saving the ecology of the Gorge is our future.  Extending the LaSalle Expressway to Portage Road for commuters will spring life into the heart of our city and will stimulate our government to clean many brownfields as it cuts through the backyard of what was once Niagara’s industrial base.  Clearing the way is a major task. 

     Directly in the LaSalle Expressway’s path is the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency’s (IDA) $165,000,000.00 economic gem, American Ref-Fuel.  While standing in the way of progress this waste-to-energy incinerator prides itself in how much out-of-town garbage it burns, in LaSalle’s backyard.  Demolishing American Re-Fuel will clean our air and clear the way for the LaSalle Expressway extension. 

     Changing the Parkway will give thousands of local workers a job while breathing life into downtown and the surrounding area stimulating retail and small business growth.  Proper traffic patterns and information will put Bed & Breakfast, Motels, Hotels, Main St., Pine Ave, N. F. Blvd. and all our surrounding towns on an equal basis.  Public control of public tourism funds can secure this. 

     Recognizing the attraction of Niagara and protecting its’ history, ecology and local quality of life is a public responsibility.  Don’t let hypocrisy control its future. 

                                                    Vincent M. Mameli





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