By Don Glynn
Niagara Gazette — A major part of the reconstruction under way at Prospect Point is expected to be completed soon, re-opening a prime viewing area for the millions of annual visitors to the Niagara Falls State Park.
"It will be a brand new vista of the American Falls," said park manager Tom Watt during a meeting of the regional state parks commission earlier this week. A ribbon-cutting is planned for early November, according to Angela Berti, pubic relations director for the commission.
Watt explained that when the initial phase is completed, the fencing will be removed with work then beginning north of Prospect Point and under the Observation Tower. A third phase is set for the lower grove, along the upper rapids between the Point and the pedestrian bridge to Goat Island.
Mindful that some remedial work at Three Sisters Islands had come under criticism, Watt noted that much of the area was simply covered by dirt and exposed tree roots. Temporary fencing was installed because the new plantings were trampled under by the public before they could even take hold.
The work at Three Sisters is part of the overall $25 million revitalization plan that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last year for the nation's oldest state park at Niagara Falls. Other areas designated for upgrades were the Cave of the Winds on Goat Island and Luna Island, the small parcel that separates the American and Bridal Veil falls.
In other action at the meeting held at Beaver Island State Park, Grand Island:
• Commission Chair Cindy Letro noted that the Albany-based state Parks Department has acquired a new park site that includes a section of the Buffalo Waterfront, formerly under the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. "It's a new day dawning for our state parks," Letro added.
• Andy Hillmann, manager of the Beaver Island site, briefed the commissioners on a number of improvements to the park including the refurbishing of the 1,173-foot long boardwalk parallel to the beach area.
• Jerry Mosey of Lewiston, a current commission member and an educator for more than 50 years, was elected as vice chair of the parks agency.
• Major David A. Page reported that the state park police force responded to 1,629 events within the region from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2013. It also issued 491 tickets and 335 warnings (e.g. people ignoring park rules and regulations) and made 50 arrests. In the same span, the park police arrested 11 persons for driving while intoxicated and 13 others on drug-related charges.