Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 24, 2014

City council unanimously opposes site of state parks police barracks

City lawmakers officially marked their support in the effort to halt the construction of a state parks police barracks on the edge of the Niagara Gorge.

The Niagara Falls City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling on state parks to hold off on the construction of the new barracks, planned for a plot of land between the Rainbow Bridge and the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, while alternate locations are considered.

Council Chairman Charles Walker said the city lawmakers were responding to concerns raised by citizens, particularly members of the Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board.

"Individuals felt like this was one of the perfect locations for them to have access to the gorge," Walker said.

The council joins other officials calling for the review of the proposed site with state lawmakers George Maziarz and John Ceretto and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Niagara Falls and Buffalo, who have all publicly supported the exploration of another spot for the building.

State parks officials have agreed to temporarily suspend construction plans while the situation is reviewed.

Walker said the council wanted to officially endorse the position that the tourism advisory board and other elected officials have taken.

"The tourism advisory board has been working against this situation for some time," Walker said. "City council just came on in support of what they're trying to do."

Lisa Vitello, the tourism advisory board chairwoman, said that many community members have been working for years to reconnect the city to its waterfront, a mission that is beginning to seem more attainable with the reconfiguration of sections of the Robert Moses Parkway in the works.

"The gorge rim is precious land and land use in this area should be devoted directly to recreational activities to enhance the gorge experience for our tourists and our residents," Vitello said. "The falls and the gorge rim are the crown jewels of this region and anything put there should facilitate public access."

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