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OUR BEAUTIFUL RIVER: SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

"An unsightly chain link fence will be relocated below the line of sight on a two-mile stretch of Niagara Street." As I read the March 1 article in The News about repair work on the Niagara Thruway, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Once again, the idea of something grand has been chiseled away from Buffalo residents.

Over the years, numerous studies have been done regarding the relocation of the Thruway or the creation of a lovely plaza area, something that has been done in other cities to cover up "progress." But all of these wonderful possibilities that have been dangled before us have boiled down to nothing.

Moving this unsightly fence a little lower is the most that can be accomplished? The very least that should be done is to lower a small portion of the Thruway (near Riverside Park) and cover this section -- creating a tunnel approximately a half-mile long.

This tunnel could be covered with grass, trees, picnic tables and a walkway connecting the existing park with the river. I believe this was the vision of the founders of the Olmsted system of parks.

I resent the fact that I have to travel to Isle View Park in Tonawanda to enjoy the serenity of a river that is right in my back yard, because the continuous roar of the Thruway engulfs my Riverside neighborhood.

This hope of moving the Thruway has been a dream for many of us in Riverside, and it's a shame it won't happen -- at least not for another 20 years. By that time, maybe I'll be too old to care. My children will be grown and gone.

Riverside residents are being cheated out of something that was unjustly taken from them a long time ago.

We should not have to enjoy the view of the river from our perch at Riverside Park, across six lanes of traffic. A beautiful river is so close, yet so far.

BARBARA KEATING Buffalo