Gazette, January 2003
plan for a high-speed ferry from Toronto to Porter, in Niagara County,
has been in the news recently. Three
catamarans, each capable of carrying 250 cars and 1,000 people, will
make trips “every hour on the hour from dawn until midnight,” says
the president. The
plan envisions and influx of visitors from Canada streaming down the
Robert Moses Parkway from Youngstown, New York, to the Seneca Niagara
Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.
The parkway is essential to the plan, supporters say. State
Senator George Maziarz and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte are among
those enthusiastic about the idea.
the Niagara Heritage Partnership (www.niagaraheritage.org) is part of a
large coalition advocating the removal of the gorge rim parkway and the
restoration of natural landscapes, we are less enthusiastic about the
idea generally, and not at all accepting of the notion that keeping the
gorge parkway is necessary for its operation.
We hope that both Maziarz and DelMonte have indicated to backers
of this plan that there is enormous support for gorge parkway removal,
but that alternate routes to the casino are available.
They should, in addition, be asking some tough questions about
this imagined venture. Why
are we expected, for example, to the detriment of the region, to provide
a highway to the casino for a private enterprise?
articles report that big aluminum ships will “whisk” cars across the
lake in 40 minutes and that in another 20 minutes they can drive the
parkway to the Seneca Nation Casino.
But by the time the cars are “whisked” on and off board, and
“whisked” through security, another two hours will have passed.
(Will Immigration and Naturalization be able to supply agents,
technologies, and dogs to detect the potential drugs, explosives, and
weapons that are of concern regarding any international traffic?)
So, for $264 Canadian, round trip, a customer will be able to
bring a car, a friend, and another couple across Ontario and then drive
the parkway to Seneca Niagara Casino where their money will be worth
35-40% less and substantial winnings will be subject to taxes.
People who think this is a good deal wouldn’t be bothered
driving an alternate route to the casino; forty miles of dirt road
wouldn’t faze them.
long will it take the Canadians arriving in Niagara Falls, New York to
realize that just several thousand feet away in Niagara Falls, Ontario,
there’s a complex of Canadian casinos where they’ll get a bigger
bang for their bucks?
company floating this idea, International Fast Ferry (IFF) wants $40
million in state tax credits and to be operational by spring 2004. Some people are already calling this scheme “the big if.”
The Canadian casinos or the province of Ontario should be
subsidizing this enterprise, not the taxpayers of New York, and the
money should come to Niagara County, where some public officials seem
eager to provide a shortcut to Canada.
We could put it to good use, removing the gorge rim parkway and
restoring the natural environment.
Baxter, Conservation Chair