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Greenway Commission needs our scrutiny

Hooray for lawyer Max Coykendall regarding the Greenway Commission and project. Coykendall relates to us, the public, the definition and policy standards of the meaning of "Greenway," and further by New York statutory law, is to be "a linear system of state and local parks and conservation areas linked by a network of multi-use trails with the Greenway area established by an approved plan of the commission."

With the dictionary's definition of linear being long and narrow; and trail defined as a marked or broken path, what could be more simplistic a definition? As residents of Western New York, did we read and understand what a greenway is to be? As commission members, the New York Power Authority and local officials in both counties, did they read and understand what a developed greenway under the law is to be? Apparently not.

While the language of the law is clear in its purpose to the appointed greenway commission and are straightforward, the commission's agenda, self-fulfilling prophesies and actions to date are contrary to these laws. Compromise works within the law; not outside it.

Did anyone notice that the proposed greenway and commission (membership questionable), quickly became a grab-bag for two counties? What do school districts, water/sewer plants, the IDA, the commercialization of our farmland forest, escarpment and gorge have to do with a Greenway? Nothing. This is not Greenway planning and development; this is "greenback taking." Maybe, we should include Canada, too.

The Niagara River Greenway is naturally and historically framed within what is known as the "Mile Reserve" (distance inland from river in Niagara County and similar areas from Buffalo waterfront, Tonawanda, etc.). In Niagara County, North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls are obvious and modest in what constitutes their requests in the Greenway; Lockport, too, with its connect to the river and canal. The Mile Reserve is clearly denoted north of Niagara Falls, as it continues through the town and village of Lewiston and the village of Youngstown and Town of Porter, to the lake. The "Greenway" (historic corridor) does not include areas east of the Mile Reserve, although the "powers that be" find it suitable to their agenda to include these areas for commercialization of our natural resources while the core of the greenway -- escarpment, gorge and river -- are clearly ignored. The Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council and the Niagara Heritage Partnership and others are left out from the development of the greenway.

All in all, we residents don't seem to matter, and our beloved resources are at the mercy of exploitation.

While the Greenway Commission escapes its charge to the greenway and our small villages and towns have been overwhelmed by the depravity of economy by "enhancement," the character, integrity, safety and welfare of our neighborhoods is lost.

The latest promotion in developing the greenway is to bring back the old Lewiston bridge -- sold to somewhere in South America years ago. The aspiration by the mayor and village in Lewiston is a walking bridge (we won't need alien swimmers or boats anymore).

Walking the old Lewiston Bridge faithfully every year in grade school from 1947 to 1950, I never envisioned it to become the Bridge on the River Kwai -- even though you could see through the slats to the depths of the river. Nor did I see the old Lewiston hill with its spring and viaduct/railroad becoming a backwash for the village's dump on the established wildflower preserve, or trees removed from Lewiston Landing to appease a few to the detriment of the public. This is only an example of "greenway thinking."

It's called "greed without borders" and has the blessing of complacent residents.

Gretchen P. Morgan


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