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Niagara Heritage Partnership

Resolution Adopted Advocating Removal of Robert Moses Parkway, 4 May 2000

Amended 7 June 2000  


WHEREAS, the falls of Niagara, the largest nontropical waterfalls on earth, are known the world over as a natural phenomenon,  


WHEREAS, the 6.5 mile Niagara River gorge, a slice of wilderness with botanical, ecological, geological, and historical significance existing in an urban environment, is an organic extension of the waterfalls,  


WHEREAS, the Niagara River and its shores have been designated a Globally Significant Important Bird Area vital to migrating birds by the Buffalo Audubon Society and a host of other organizations international in breadth,


WHEREAS, the National Audubon Society reports 90% of American songbirds are in serious population decline, with some losses up to 50%,  


WHEREAS, eliminating the four lanes of Robert Moses Parkway and restoring natural landscapes there and on the mowed medians and roadsides would add approximately 300 acres to this Important Bird Area,


WHEREAS, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation recognizes the importance of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's philosophy regarding the maintenance of the Niagara Reservation in a natural state and intends to more closely adhere to that philosophy,


WHEREAS, the Niagara gorge and gorgetop is the natural extension of the Reservation,


WHEREAS, approximately 1.5 miles of the natural gorge face has already been damaged beyond restoration by power generating facilities, bridge abutments, roads, sewage pump station construction and other artificial additions,


WHEREAS, additional construction and/or commercialization would destroy or threaten even more of the natural gorge and gorgetop such as ancient cliff-face botanicals and the old growth forest grove and its understory at DeVeaux,


WHEREAS, the parkway roadbed itself introduces four lanes of concrete and vehicular traffic into what should otherwise be an aesthetically consistent natural landscape,


WHEREAS, the actual cost of snow removal and grass mowing along the parkway equals nearly $200,000 per year,


WHEREAS, removing the entire parkway between Niagara Falls and Lewiston (excluding the mile of concrete over the power generating plant) would cost, according to informal estimate, around $2 million,


WHEREAS, large portions of the concrete parkway are in ill repair, patched with blacktop, suggesting that major renovation will be needed in the short term, rather than long,


WHEREAS, the hidden costs to the environment from parkway maintenance such as pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels and the tons of salt from winter road maintenance makes its way into the gorge landscape and river,


WHEREAS, projected Master Plan "selective tree trimming" to improve views and the spraying of herbicides along the parkway could be abandoned as ecologically unsound practices,


WHEREAS, the river water would be relieved of salt and herbicide contamination, reducing slightly the burden already carried by fish and other aquatic life,


WHEREAS, the Niagara Waterfront Master Plan (1992) reported the Robert Moses Parkway as "significantly underutilized,"


WHEREAS, the parkway is not a necessary north-south traffic route, there being alternates such as Main Street--Lewiston Road, Hyde Park Blvd., Military Road, and the I-90,


WHEREAS, the parkway currently funnels traffic away from these thoroughfares,


WHEREAS, trolleys, viewmobiles, horse-drawn carriages or other conveyances should be encouraged to ply routes through the city of Niagara Falls, New York, arriving at Whirlpool, Devil's Hole, and DeVeaux Woods State Parks by right angle access roads,


WHEREAS, the economic climate of the business districts along these alternate routes would have the potential of dramatic improvement, particularly Main Street of Niagara Falls, New York,


WHEREAS, hiking and biking trails replacing the parkway would enhance the Niagara region as an eco-tourist destination,


WHEREAS, restored natural landscapes would enhance habitat for wildlife, and thus extend the season for the eco-tourist interested in birding during spring and fall migrations, and by increasing awareness of the presence of gulls during winter months,


WHEREAS, the season would be further extended into winter as visitors and residents interested in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and other cold weather activities used the trails,


WHEREAS, these trails would be the "middle-passage" of an extended natural experience when linked with other developing trails, especially along the Upper Niagara and from Lewiston to Fort Niagara in Youngstown,


WHEREAS, the linking of these trails would be a significant addition to the developing New York State trail system as shown on the trail map produced by the New York State Parks and Conservation Association, Inc.,


WHEREAS, with the parkway removed, the edges of the old growth forest grove at DeVeaux could be encouraged to expand, providing it with a protective buffer zone, and connecting it with Whirlpool State Park,


WHEREAS, the gorgetop area of Devil's Hole State Park has been severely compromised by the parkway's four lanes and medians and should be enlarged and properly treated as a memorial for all those who died in the struggle for the Niagara Frontier,


WHEREAS, The proposed Headquarters for the NYS Parks Commission in buildings at DeVeaux would not be isolated from the park with parkway lanes removed,


WHEREAS, residents and visitors from around the world should be given the opportunity to enjoy the natural landscapes, the long grass meadows, wildflowers, and trees of a protected and cherished gorgetop area,




RESOLVED, that the Niagara Heritage Partnership advocates the removal of the 5.5 miles of four lanes of concrete Robert Moses Parkway between Niagara Falls, New York, and Lewiston, New York, and the land be restored with trees, long-grass wildflower meadows in accord with Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux's philosophy of natural parks, to be complemented by gorgetop hiking and biking trails to run the entire length.





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Niagara Heritage Partnership

MPO Box 1495

Niagara Falls, New York 14302-1723