Niagara Gazette

April 9, 2014

BRADBERRY: Say it with me -- this land is your land ...

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — While we fret about where to place his statue, from beyond the site where he lay in faraway Belgrade, Serbia, Nikola Tesla is now providing the state park and the city of Niagara Falls with an opportunity to develop and coordinate some comprehensive planning for the long-term benefit of BOTH by forcing them to work out an agreement to relocate the statue where it belongs; according to some, with the last remaining original physical vestige of his actual presence here.

The old Adams Plant building on Buffalo Avenue could be restored and developed into a world-class testament to his work and serve as host to the nine foot tall bronze statue which would welcome millions of visitors who would flock to see it and learn the amazing stories behind the history of the development and distribution of hydro-power.

Indeed, the growing controversy over what to do with Tesla is opening the window of opportunity to dream, but perhaps as important, to ACT!

But before we do anything to poor Tesla (both he and Tubman, to name a few, deserve serious attention here), we might afford ourselves a moment to envision a possible future for ourselves, mindful of the admonition that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” -- Prov. 29:18.

This is not our first time around this issue.

Somewhere around December 15, 1917, John Nolen, City Planner, Cambridge, Mass., submitted a “Preliminary Plan” to the City of Niagara Falls. His, like many others that followed over the years since then, was an attempt to develop a plan for the orderly development of our great city.

Nolen began his plan with an identification of problems. He noted that “the City of Niagara Falls is at present greatly handicapped in its efforts to obtain an orderly and attractive development by the unfavorable existing conditions, which interfere seriously with its success as a resort, its efficiency as an industrial city, the stability of its property values, and with the growth and increase in wealth of its population.”

Since he submitted his plan nearly 100 years ago, dozens if not hundreds of other plans have come and gone. Some still sit in the dark closets at City Hall, collecting dust, being eaten by the mites, ignored, forgotten, abandoned. In some cases, that was for the best.

But what we need in Niagara Falls goes beyond a plan. We need a vision, a common view of who we are and what we stand for. There is plenty of room in a good vision for everybody to pitch in and buy into a piece of the whole.

Once we know what that is, we need to have the strength and determination to follow through. We don’t necessarily need any more plans right now; we need a dream that we can all share and work toward together to achieve.

Imagine the constant parades of giant airbuses, each one bringing hundreds of visitors to the Niagara Falls International Airport from all over the world to enjoy a week of cultural delights, evenings of jazz at the falls, opera and ballet at the Niagara Center For the Performing Arts, a Broadway play at the new full-production theater overlooking the upper river where toxic chemicals once poured freely into the water.

Under an agreement between the State Department and the State of New York, the United Nations has set up an adjunct meeting facility at Beaver Island. Hundreds of UN delegates from all of the represented countries are housed there and host meetings and conferences on International Peace Initiatives.

Working feverishly to keep up the last minute refinements squeezed in by the Japanese architects, the sub-contractors, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and masons are scrambling across town to complete the finishing touches on the new high-speed rail system that links the rest of the world to Niagara Falls. Impatient tourists, eager to spend their vacation bonuses, ride the elegant bullet trains in style and comfort from New York City, Albany, Montreal and Toronto, and pack the casinos, night clubs and the brand new Disney Winter Wonderland complex.

At the Tesla Center on the Niagara University campus, on land once designated an undevelopable brownfield, researchers from all over the world gather to design and build new, clean, inexpensive energy resources.

Imagine a brand new “city in a park” built around the majesty and beauty of Niagara Falls, a city where people are prosperous and proud, with businesses and institutions that attract people from all over the world. A city with world-class winter and summer recreation and sports facilities, a place where the Olympic-class ice skating events are booked for the next 50 years, where art museums and internationally renowned artists and performers clamor to be seen, a city where the most advanced energy production techniques on the planet are being created and distributed across the galaxy. Imagine you live here.

This is your home. You are the envy of your friends and family, who years ago moved away to far-off places and now wish they could come back home to their old neighborhoods.

This is your home, where crime is almost nonexistent and the hospitals almost empty and electricity is almost free.

You’re home, where the life expectancy of men and women is higher than nearly anyplace else in the world. Here, where the United Nations comes to discuss and solve the world’s problems, in the calm and serenity of this new international center for intellectual dialogue, here in your hometown, Niagara Falls.

Now, open your eyes and look at the work we have to do.

I don’t know if he was in any way influenced by the biblical reference that I quoted earlier,“ … he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” from Proverbs 29:18, but I do like the way singer, song-writer, producer extraordinaire Pharrell Williams puts it in his award winning tune, “Happy”:

“Clap along if you feel like this is what you want to do … Come on!”

Come on, people!

Contact Bill Bradberry at