Niagara Gazette

Opinion

July 4, 2014

COPS NOTEBOOK: Taking a second look at State Parks Police site

Niagara Gazette — A lesson learned from my last column.

Sometimes when you rant, you can actually start an informed conversation.

In the aftermath of my scolding, as some of you characterized it in messages to me, of the Falls Tourism Advisory Board, its chairwoman, Lisa Vitello, reached out and asked if we could meet and chat. We got together by the fences surrounding the construction site of a proposed new State Park Police station a couple of days later.

I'm glad we spoke. 

Vitello explained that the tourism board's opposition to the proposed police station site is one of esthetics. They see the property as a "gateway" into a new "cultural district" hinging to a significant degree on so-called eco-tourism.

The tourism board chair's view is that a shiny new police station is not the "view" that should be presented to tourists entering this district. Fair enough, that's her and the tourism board's opinion.

I told her as a "tourist," who has traveled around the world, a symbol of safety and security (for example, a police station) does not offend my sensibilities. To the contrary, I'm appreciative of the message that it sends that my well-being and that of other tourists is a priority to those I am visiting.

Fair to say, I think, that she and I will agree to disagree on this point, but our discussion was rational, polite and informative. May the best argument win out.

I was a little disappointed when Vitelllo suggested a new police station would eventually become a land-gobbling monster that would have to be expanded to accommodate storage facilities, fuel depots and so on. That's a red-herring if ever there was one, and I think Vitello would agree with me on that.

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