Niagara Gazette — Architecture and urban planning students from the University at Buffalo shared their vision for a section of the city’s North End with the Niagara Falls Planning Board Wednesday night.
The graduate students from the school’s Urban Design Project shared their planning recommendations — the culmination of a semester-long project — with the board and a crowd of about 20 people in city council chambers during the planning board meeting.
Professor Hiro Hata led the team of students as they examined the area of the Falls from the gorge rim to Main Street and from the Rainbow Bridge plaza to the Whirlpool Bridge, contemplating the planned removal of the Robert Moses Parkway and how the city might reconnect that section of the city to the river and gorge.
Hata said his students identified connecting the Main Street corridor back to the park land along the gorge as the main goal for planning changes the city might implement.
The removal of the parkway sets the stage for those changes, he said.
“That, to us, is a very huge opportunity for the city to seize and bring both restoration of nature as well as many, many other benefits,” he said.
Reconnecting the city to the gorge will both improve quality of life for residents and spur investment from private interests, according to Hata.
“There is a reciprocity between the city and nature in the form of the gorge,” he said.
Students worked closely with the city’s planning office to compile its report, poring over data, maps and planned developments over the course of the semester.
The group is even in the process of constructing a model “about the size of a grand piano” which will eventually be donated to the city, Hata said.
The report identified a long list of planning approaches the city might take to achieve the goals set forth including: