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Cuomo makes stops in Buffalo, Niagara Falls on Tuesday

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo makes stops in Buffalo and Niagara Falls Tuesday, when he is expected to make announcements.

His first stop will be in the Conventus Center for Collaborative Medicine on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus at 10:30 a.m.

The governor is then scheduled to speak at noon in the Conference & Event Center on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls. That’s where he will announce a large-scale project to remove the northern portion of the Robert Moses Parkway, between Findlay Drive near Whirlpool State Park and downtown Niagara Falls.

Almost since the day it was built more than 50 years ago, residents of Niagara Falls have cursed the parkway, an 18.4-mile stretch of highway along the scenic Niagara Gorge, stretching from Niagara Falls to Youngstown.

Although serving up beautiful vistas of the Niagara River, the parkway is blamed for cutting the city’s access to nature, as well as limiting traffic into the city.

Planning for the Moses parkway removal project began in 2013, but the details on the project are expected to be released by the governor.

According to City Council Chairman Andrew Touma, the project will reconfigure the northern Robert Moses so people can once again access green space with activities including horseback riding and zip lines.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Mayor Paul A. Dyster set the stage a few weeks ago during a news conference, when they urged the Federal Highway Administration to start removing the north end of the parkway.

During the news conference, Dyster said the blamed the parkway for “ushering in an era of unprecedented urban decline and decay.”

Higgins said the New York Power Authority – which planned and built the parkway, evicted homeowners in the process and owns the land – bears responsibility for financing the project and “righting a historical wrong.”

The State Senate also moved in that direction, adopting a bill to change the name of the parkway to the Niagara Scenic Parkway.

Though City Council members on Monday did not discuss planned changes, they did allude to the importance of the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway during an ongoing review of the 2009 Comprehensive Plan by Senior City Planner Thomas DeSantis.

Since 2000, DeSantis said, the city has made attempts to halt its spiral. He said the updated Comprehensive Plan plots a course for city renewal, including developing the waterfront, revitalizing neighborhoods and building partnerships.

One of the “seven big moves” to have the biggest influence on the revitalization of Niagara Falls is reconnecting the city to its waterfront, said DeSantis.

He said through reconfiguring and repurposing the parkway – and also eliminating some sections – the land can be reclaimed for more-productive uses.

News Staff Reporter Aaron Besecker contributed to this report.