On Nov. 14, more than 100 people gathered on Grand Island to protest the consideration of several alternative bridge alignments that would have a severe adverse impact on the ecology of the Niagara River.
During this meeting, representatives of the Peace Bridge Authority admitted that the proposed crossings at the foot of Sheridan Drive spanning the river between Strawberry and Motor Islands were not feasible. However, they made it clear that these alternatives will continue to receive consideration because of pressure applied by what they refer to as "higher authority."
It turns out that this "higher authority" is Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, who represents the 140th District. He and his cronies intend to secure a bridge crossing that, in their view, will refocus the economic benefits of this project within the Town of Tonawanda.
Such a step would finish off one of the last high-quality aquatic habitats left in the Niagara River corridor.
Over the last decade, government agencies, local businesses and a host of volunteers representing nearly every walk of life have worked together to save Strawberry Island, preserve the Motor Island heron rookery and restore lost wetlands. In fact, New York State has contributed nearly $2 million to this restoration effort. The Schimminger bridge plan will not only undo all of this great work, but will cause irrevocable harm to the ecology of the Niagara River.
Strawberry Island has no constituency. If we want to protect this valuable resource, we need to speak out. One more workshop will be convened on Dec. 7. Please attend and let the authority know that we are not willing to let it destroy the environment just to get a signature bridge.
PAUL G. LEUCHNER