Niagara Gazette — The Sierra Club was actually the first group to formally advocate for full parkway removal from Niagara Falls to Lewiston, adopting a resolution in support of a return to the natural roots along the northern parkway section. Niagara Heritage Partnership members followed soon after with a formal resolution of their own. They also started a removal petition drive, which Baxter said is now supported with signatures from more than 4,000 individuals and about 80 organizations.
The Rev. Charles Lamb, a Sierra Club member and Youngstown resident, is one of the names on the list. While many of his neighbors in Youngstown and other communities to the north of Niagara Falls support parkway retention, Lamb said there are many others like him who believe the better path involves removal and restoration.
“I think there are ways we can have access back and forth from Niagara Falls and still have a natural environment,” Lamb said. “They wouldn’t think of putting a big highway along the edge of the Grand Canyon.”
REMOVAL AS AN OPTION
State parks recently embarked on a new “scoping” process aimed at determining what should be done with the parkway’s northern section long-term. The process, overseen on behalf of state parks by consultant, the Parsons Group, requested public input on six proposed options, including total removal. The consultant is expected to release its recommendations for preferred options soon.
Baxter views total removal as the one and only sensible option.
While he admits it would be an “enormous” challenge, Baxter believes it is the sort of transformative project a community like Niagara Falls desperately needs.
He bristles at the argument that removal would be too expensive, costing what some have estimated as “tens of millions of dollars.” He noted that a study financed by the local environmental advocacy group, Wild Ones Niagara Falls, pegged removal cost at $3.8 million. Baxter maintains that the study, prepared for Wild Ones by the consulting firm, EDR, demonstrates that removal is not only economically feasible, but in the best interests of the community.