Niagara Gazette

May 26, 2013

EDITORIAL: Eyesore's cleaning a good start

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — “Bums Park” lost a little of its ugliness on Friday when a crew from the city’s Department of Public Works swept through the site, cutting the grass, removing weeds and litter from winter storage.

While there’s still much to be done — beyond the DPW’s role — the parcel, at least from a distance, looks presentable to passersby. It also should be noted the quick fix eliminated an eyesore destined to be noticed by countless visitors to the Cataract City for the  Memorial Day weekend, the start of another tourist season.

On closer inspection, however, you’ll find the brick walkway discolored and heaved in several places that pose serious threats to anyone just strolling by. The park is within walking distance of Niagara Falls State Park downtown, at the corner of Third and Niagara streets.

If conditions were safer, the benches and small amphitheater seats cleaner, and the walkways smoother, it would be a pleasant place to glimpse at a significant part of the Niagara story.

A large stone marker there once stood on The Schoellkopf Bridge over the hydraulic canal that carried water from the upper river to the Schoellkopf Power Station, destroyed by a landslide in 1956. The marker cites “the foresight and courage” of Jacob F. Schoellkopf, a pioneer in power development. Another monument nearby recognizes Augustus Porter and Gen. Peter B. Porter for deeding the grounds to the canal project.

Records show that the small parkland was owned by the former Niagara County Savings Bank (now Bank of America) but it was later acquired by the DiCienzo family of Niagara Falls, Ont., the current owner. They continue to invest heavily in this city but they should also be concerned with that parcel they didn’t develop — two blocks from this nation’s oldest state park.

In any event, it’s good to see city workers tackling problem sites in the downtown area — this is a big weekend for the Falls, after all.