Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 7, 2012

Parkway changes coming?

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

"The parks have very curving, multiple-route pathways so that you can come in one way and come back a different way," Lebsack said.

Sam Hoyt, the regional president of Empire State Development, said the plan is "totally consistent" with the vision that the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council has for the promotion of recreational tourism in the state park, though these plans predate the regional councils and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion plan." Promoting tourism in Niagara Falls was highlighted as a key component of that plan during Cuomo's visit to the region earlier this week.

"We're taking something that I think truly is viewed as a barrier to the water's edge and making it inviting and not threatening to the pedestrian," Hoyt said. 

There is also a plan to potentially remake a pond that existed before the parkway was built over top of it.

Mayor Paul Dyster said the pond could be used to provide programming - fly-fishing, kayaking lessons, ice skating - to draw both residents and tourist into that section of the park.

"Think of all the programming elements that can accompany just a simple infrastructure upgrade like that," Dyster said. "But, we need to do stuff like that. We need more stuff for people to do and sometimes you have to have the infrastructure there to support that."

Representatives from the engineering firm estimate the cost of the project at between $15 million to $20 million.

Western Region State Parks Director Mark Thomas said that only $5 million has been secured for the project, but that a pledge from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to help find funding and the emphasis on tourism in Niagara Falls in the "Buffalo Billion" plan give him confidence that the agencies will be able to secure funding.

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