Faulty Parks Police plan for new headquarters would cut off access to Niagara Gorge - The Buffalo News
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Faulty Parks Police plan for new headquarters would cut off access to Niagara Gorge

Somebody needs to read the police their rights.

That is to say, read to the State Parks Police the rights of Niagara Falls residents to the river gorge that is their heritage.

The state made a wise decision in choosing to move the Parks Police Headquarters off Goat Island, where it plainly doesn’t belong. But it now wants to put its building in another place it doesn’t belong – on the rim of the gorge behind the Howard Johnson hotel at 454 Main St.

State parks officials defend the selection on the grounds that it already owns the land, that a concrete barrier between the site and the gorge already cuts off access, and that the site has been previously disturbed by industrial activities. All are relevant, certainly, but they don’t make a compelling argument to further encumber the gorge just as the state is working to return access to residents and tourists.

Surely there is another spot, and surely Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo – who has made a mission of returning the gorge to the people of Niagara Falls – can convince the agency of that.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster certainly understands the issue. The city suggested several other sites, both publicly and privately owned, he said. “The City of Niagara Falls would have preferred an alternative site,” he understated.

The Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board also criticized use of the gorge rim for the police station. Chairwoman Lisa A. Vitello said the obvious in noting that there could be a better use for that land in the future. The board’s suggestions for the site include an outdoor amphitheater.

Niagara Falls has had a history of tripping over its own feet and turning a sure thing – a dramatic, internationally known natural attraction – into an also-ran. But now, with the state’s help, things are turning around. The Robert Moses Parkway, a blight on the city’s spectacular river gorge, will soon be removed, reconnecting the city to the river. New hotels are coming. The Niagara Falls Culinary Institute is a success.

This is the time to foster momentum, not stall it. It may sound like a small thing, but the Niagara River is a finite resource. The proposed location of the police station may not offer great views today but, as Vitello said, there could be useful and appropriate uses for the site down the road.

Put the police station somewhere else, and save the gorge for residents and visitors.

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