Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 7, 2013

ON THE PARKWAY: State parks delays trouble both sides of debate

NIAGARA FALLS — Get former Lewiston Mayor Richard Soluri and citizen activist Bob Baxter in the same room together and there’s little they agree upon. But New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation managed to unify them in one sentiment.

Both are disappointed in delays of the release of information surrounding the Robert Moses Parkway north section scoping process, which the Albany office has yet to finalize. Both want to finally have some direction from the decision makers. Both expected action in January but were left wanting.

“We’ve now waited over a year and a half to learn which options have been selected, and (state parks has) failed to perform this simple task,” Baxter, a founding member of the pro-removal Niagara Heritage Partnership, said. “If they are paralyzed into inactivity because they realize that after all their contorted efforts, total gorge parkway removal is the clear and obvious choice, then the Niagara Heritage Partnership will be happy to announce for them. Just give us the word.”

“Yes we’re disappointed,” Soluri, of the pro-retention Parkway Preservation Commission, said. “We built up to this process last November. Then they said they’d release the the information to the press in January. Either keep the parkway open or close it. If you keep it open, then determine which option. But we’re disappointed.”

The scoping process dates back to 2005, when officials from state parks, the state Department of Transportation, the state-run USA Niagara Development Corp. and the city of Niagara Falls agreed to open up the dialogue with residents in an effort to develop possible alternatives to the existing parkway.

An initial study created six alternatives, including:

• Alternative 1, which calls for the complete restoration of all four lanes of traffic for the entire parkway.

• Alternative 2, which calls for the completion of the parkway’s pilot program to reduce from four to two lanes — closing the southbound lanes —throughout the Lewiston and Youngstown stretches of the parkway and reducing the speed limit.

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