Niagara Gazette — “I was mayor for 16 years. We’ve been talking about this for 14 of those 16 years,” he said.
For just as many years, local groups, including the Niagara Heritage Partnership and the Sierra Club, have fought to get the whole parkway removed, in an effort to improve access to the gorge and to promote ecotourism. In response to the debates, State Parks recently hired a consultant to gather public input on six proposed options, including total removal. The consultant, Parsons Group, held public hearings to collect data, and is expected to release its recommendations for preferred options soon.
Adding fuel to the removal debate is the input of a former Milwaukee mayor who was an advocate for removing an expressway in Milwaukee to increase community access to extensive Lake Michigan waterfront.
Norquist, is now a leader of the Congress for the New Urbanism, and last year, the group placed the Robert Moses Parkway on its list of “Freeways Without Futures,” citing it as a roadway that would benefit from repurposing to better serve the city and its residents.
Norquist, who visited the falls last summer, declared 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.
Such language worries Robert Emerson, director of Old Fort Nigara, whose facility depends on enticing some of the Falls’ estimated 7 to 12 million or so annual tourists to take a drive out to Youngstown to see the historic old fort.
“When visitors call us, one of their main concerns is how long it takes to get from Niagara Falls to the fort,” he said.
“What we don’t want to see happen is the parkway completely removed, forcing visitors who want to drive their cars to the fort to go through downtown areas with lots of red lights,” he said. “We’re on record as supporting a seamless pathway from Niagara Falls to Old Fort Niagara.”