Niagara Gazette — “Initially conceived to service industries along the waterfront, the parkway is now underutilized and expensive to maintain,” the CNU notes on its list.
Norquist maintains that the parkway’s impact on the Falls is evident. He called it “almost shocking” to see how the parkway “cuts off the community from its waterfront,” adding that alternatives exist that would allow for the change without compromising travel to and from Lewiston, Youngstown and other communities to the north.
“You have a whole street grid,” Norquist said. “You go inland and every few blocks there’s a major avenue or arterial. There’s no reason that the traffic has to be along the water.”
People in the Falls area have been discussing the pros and cons of parkway removal — at least the north section anyway — for years.
The local push to remove the section between the Falls and Lewiston gathered momentum in the late 1990s. At the time, the late Toronto developer Eddie Cogan was pitching Falls lawmakers on a plan to reshape downtown through the development of high-rise hotels, skyscrapers and other commercial projects.
Cogan’s original vision — which was part of the city’s development agreement with the company, Niagara Falls Redevelopment — concerned some local environmental advocates who feared it could prove detrimental to the natural setting of the Niagara Gorge rim.
The Niagara Heritage Partnership formed soon after. Although it didn’t start out that way, the grassroots organization evolved into the lead voice for removal of the parkway’s northern section.
“(Cogan) wanted to remake downtown and had everyone looking over at Canada like it was the holy grail,” said Bob Baxter, one of the founding members of the partnership. “We thought, ‘that’s not the way to go.’ We wanted to remember Niagara Falls and keep it natural. What is Niagara Falls? It’s a natural phenomenon, not an amusement park.”