Moses Parkway: a comprehensive look
For the past year and half, the Niagara Community Form Internet site has continually advocated removal of the Robert Moses Parkway to facilitate private development surrounding the waterfront. These concepts are not new. Almost from the day the parkway opened it was obvious it was a detriment to the economic development of our city.
Even though we know it was a glaring mistake, we have been unable to do anything to correct it. The parkway has contributed to conditions that have caused neighborhoods to fall into economic decline, business districts to fail and prime real estate to be taken over by developers waiting until we do something to make their investments profitable.
The city's Comprehensive Plan calls for a new Cultural District to be constructed on parkway land. Removing the overpasses at the Whirlpool Bridge would complement the new Intermodal Transportation Station/Underground Museum and spur investment. Removing the overpasses and berms at John Daly Boulevard and extending the roadway to Pine Avenue would create new opportunity for development there.
If all the past study results are true, no one in their right mind could argue the benefits of removing the Robert Moses Parkway. So why is it still there?
One reason has to be the constant back and forth on how to remove it.
On one hand, environmental groups want it removed in its entirety from Niagara Street to the Village of Lewiston, maintaining access only to state parks and selected venues along its route. They want the land to be reverted to its natural state to facilitate eco-tourism. Main Street businesses want it removed to the city line to deter bypassing of the business district. The residents who live in Whirlpool and DeVeaux neighborhoods want access to the parkland to improve quality of life and raise the worth of their properties.
On the other hand, people from the Northtowns will argue the road is vital to their tourist industry, and it is the most convenient way to get to tourist attractions in Niagara Falls from their communities.
The parkway is considered a convenient commuter route for people that work in the city and live in the outlying communities. Some who live in DeVeaux will argue the increased traffic (from parkway removal) will threaten the serenity of their area and pose an increased threat to the safety of their children. State Parks will argue for the necessity of easy access to Whirlpool, Devil's Hole, Artpark and Fort Niagara.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation is in the process of scoping the north section of the Parkway from Niagara Street in the Falls to Lewiston. The result of the scoping process will likely determine the future of this section. I will be advocating suspension of the Robert Moses at the I-190 exchanges, reconfiguring at the I-190 exchanges to provide southbound exits to I-190 and 104 on-ramps from Artpark to the Parkway South New Parking at the top of Lewiston Hill. Removal of all lanes from Niagara Street to Whirlpool Park and use of Whirlpool (in its present configuration) as the riverside route to the new Inter-modal Transportation Station. Whirlpool and Devil's Hole Parks Removal of the southbound lane from Whirlpool Park to Lewiston. Removal of all concrete and chain link barriers to the Waterfront Traffic lights at pedestrian crossing along Whirlpool and DeVeaux neighborhoods.
Although much of this is conceptual, it represents the kind of compromise I feel is necessary to end this constant back and forth, which continues to be a dark cloud over the economic development of not only Niagara Falls, but the entire county.
For more thoughts on the parkway, visit niagaraforum.blogspot.com.