Niagara Gazette

Opinion

December 11, 2012

GUEST VIEW: Setting record straight on parkway removal

Niagara Gazette — In 1997 the Niagara Heritage Partnership proposed that the Niagara gorge parkway be totally removed in the interest of restoring the natural environment that was once part of our heritage along the rim. As might have been predicted, opposition to removal was immediate. What we couldn’t have predicted was the nature of the opposition: Name calling, misinformation campaigns, political maneuvering, etc. Of course, the opposition’s idea of “compromise” was to keep the parkway — and still is, in some “reconfiguration” or the other — so that was a non-starter.

From very early on, by way of misinformation, the opposition said, “NHP wants to remove the parkway all the way to Youngstown.” But we never did and still don’t. This lie had legs, however. During the last election cycle, I got a robo-call informing me that candidate Amy Witryol wanted to remove the parkway. Of course, she’s never taken a position on the parkway issue, one way or the other, but why let facts get in the way of running a campaign?

At another time over the years since 1997, Sen. George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Cerreto, helped by Professor William Angus (and his students) at Niagara University initiated a bogus trolley-on-the-parkway “study.” The idea was to make this enterprise look so favorable that the proposal for parkway removal would be squashed. That failed when we pointed out what a scam the “study” was — and we’ve heard nothing more about it.

When the removal proposal had gained enough momentum to request funding from the Niagara River Greenway Commission for a scientific study, Maziarz and Richard Soluri, former Lewiston mayor, showed up unannounced at a greenway meeting where they both spoke at length against the funding being granted. Minutes after the meeting adjourned, Maziarz looked me in the face and said he had not spoken against the funding. Which was I to believe — him or my lying ears? I remember specifically some of what he said that day: “What about my studies?” he’d asked the committee members, petulantly. “I know they’re not scientific, but everyone I ask wants to keep the parkway.” That he’d confused the idea of a study with a personal, biased survey didn’t appear to occur to him.

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