Niagara Gazette

Editorials

May 30, 2014

EDITORIAL: Charged up over Tesla move

Niagara Gazette — Nikolai Tesla helped build the first hydroelectric power plant in the world.

He did it right here in Niagara Falls.

That’s why it is astounding to us, and so many others, that the community has not managed to find a way to properly recognize the well-known inventor’s accomplishments. 

The lack of a fitting place of recognition for Tesla has been a point of contention locally for many years. 

In recent weeks, the controversy has surfaced again as city officials actively lobbied representatives from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to allow a 9-foot, bronze statue of Tesla to be relocated to an area closer to the downtown tourism district.

Currently, the statue — a gift from the former Yugoslovia — is located near the main entrance lot on Goat Island to Stedman’s Bluff. Some city officials and residents believe it would make more sense to move the statue out of the park altogether, preferably to a location within city limits where it could be part of larger effort to better highlight the contributions Tesla made. 

Ideally, the statue would be linked in some way to the last remaining building of the alternating current power plant first used to send electricity over long distances. That building, now privately owned, has essentially languished in obscurity off Buffalo Avenue near the city’s wastewater treatment plant for years. 

In response to a unanimous city council resolution endorsing the idea of the statue being “gifted” to the municipality, state parks officials have said that they’d be “open” to such a transaction. 

There seems to be at least some semblance of agreement on the need to do more to honor Tesla’s legacy.

What the community needs now is a concrete plan of action. 

Before state parks spends public money to move the statue within the state park itself, strong consideration should be given to developing a concept that would allow Tesla’s likeness to be fully appreciated at a location in the downtown area. 

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