Niagara Gazette

Opinion

December 5, 2012

GLYNN: Landscape architect recalls early parkway job

Niagara Gazette — The endless debate over removing the Robert Moses Parkway extends far beyond Western New York.

Some people will even claim that the Sierra Club of Northern California has a stake in the issue. This past week after a column about U.S. Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., trying to fast-track the removal of the southern parkway section — between the John B. Daly Boulevard interchange and the area close to the American Rapids Bridge to Goat Island — a former Falls resident added some interesting insight on the subject.

Gary H. Scott of Corona, Ariz., was the landscape architect and designer for the project 27 years ago to take out the parkway and "the massive, ugly non-handicapped accessible ramps" that crossed the road within the park."

In his e-mail earlier in the week, Scott said: "I fought in vain to remove the road to the (then) Quay Street exit, the thinking being that Frederick Law Olmsted had a pedestrian path to what in 1885 was the intersection of Seventh Street and Buffalo Avenue." The specific point, as Scott noted, along the river's edge was called 'Old French Landing,' which is where Olmsted terminated the walkway with a cul-de-sac.

For some reason, officials at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Albany, and at the regional office in Prospect Park were more interested in catering to a few fishermen who needed the remnant portion of the Moses for access and parking was far more important than historic accuracy and remaining true to Olmsted's design intentions. Otherwise, Scott stresses, the restoration project would have removed the Moses all the way to Quay Street.

There's no question the project completed in 1987 was beneficial. By removing the ramps over the parkway and the roadway itself, Scott says, many excellent views of the upper river and falls were re-established. Trees were eliminated from the Prospect Point area, as no specie was found suitable to withstand the winter spray effect. And the trail system with "braided" paths was es=established, so pedestrians strolling along the rapids could be closer to the water's edge, or even up higher and away from the water.

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