Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 20, 2013

CITY DESK: Higgins takes a side on parkway issue

Niagara Gazette — He didn't mention it during the actual press conference.

It was a question he had to know was coming soon after. 

When it comes to the Robert Moses Parkway, it's one of those things that just comes with the territory.

"Congressman Higgins, what would you say to people in Lewiston and communities north of Niagara Falls who like the parkway just the way it is?"

Up until that point, the Buffalo Democrat whose Congressional district now includes Niagara Falls hadn't mentioned Lewiston or Porter or Youngstown even once while discussing his plan to get $120 million from the New York Power Authority to help with removal efforts along the southern and northern parkway sections. 

This wasn't your typical 'let's compromise' talk. 

This was more in the — with apologies to Higgins — Larry the Cable Guy realm.

In other words: 'Let's get 'er done.'

During his press conference last week, Higgins described the parkway as a "barrier" to economic development in the city. 

He used the term "reclaim" to describe what he believes should be done on the property where the parkway now sits.

He made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he would like the roadway — at least significant parts of it — removed in favor of a more natural setting, the kind that might make the Upper Niagara River and the Niagara Gorge more accessible to residents and visitors alike.

In response to one reporter, he also was steadfast in his desire to offer this side of the border a true alternative to its Canadian counterpart — one where natural appeal takes precedent over Gorge-front skyscrapers and high-rise hotels. 

In his first public statements since Niagara Falls was added to his Congressional district, Higgins didn't do what so many other politicians had done before him. He didn't attempt to split arguably the most controversial issue in the western end of the county down the middle. 

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