Niagara Gazette

Opinion

October 15, 2012

HIGGS: Wait! There's more to cheer about

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Other ideas were to remodel the commercial space at the Comfort Inn that is for sale to face the downtown area and perhaps an alternate street entry to Old Falls Street at the wax museum. This would also serve current and future downtown residents offering food, personal services and recreational opportunities. Consistent streetscapes would have to include matching trash receptacles, signage, benches, etc.

As all of this unraveled as future development, I admit it was a bit mind boggling but I noticed that some of the ideas I gathered from my friends and some of Roger’s ideas and my own were included. All of this would encourage longer stays and educate visitors on area attractions with the use of historical exhibits in appropriate spaces in the redesigned mall or in other underutilized buildings or even hotel lobbies. It was stressed that there be a clear connection between Old Falls Street and the state park. Future focus would be on Upper Falls Street including Falls Street Station, additional space along the Conference Center frontage and along Rainbow Boulevard.

What about implementation of these ideas? A major suggestion was many community meetings, which I liked. We need to establish a unified vision and gather as many cheerleaders as possible to stop the naysayer, which means a clear picture to present to residents and business owners alike. One of the suggestions was the absolute enforcement of all codes and ordinances and the use of Requests for Qualifications (RFQ’s) when it comes time to seek developers. Some things to look for were: Evidence of Experience, Successful Public Private Partnerships, Experience with desired project elements, Financial capability and Endure Phasing.

I am no novice to grand ideas to help Niagara Falls revitalize itself. I watched our community college disappear to the suburbs. I was present at Mr. Cogan’s plans for Niagara Falls Redevelopment back in the days of Mayor Jim Galie. I lived through the disastrous ups and downs of the Splash Park and the change from a parking ramp to include a mall which could not be recognized from the outside. I saw the demise of the Turtle, and the sudden reuse of the former convention center. But I also saw the revitalization of the United Office Building and the interest in created in upgraded hotels and fine dining.

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