County Sound-Off, November 2003
recent article in the Niagara County section presented the Niagara
Heritage Partnership idea for an extended greenhouse over the parkway
lanes where they cross the gorge power plant.
This is one of over fifteen projects related to parkway removal
and the restoration of natural landscapes along the gorge rim.
Other projects include the relocation of the State Parks
maintenance buildings from the edge of the gorge to a more appropriate
site, the construction of additional wheelchair and handicapped access
points, and the reclamation of that part of Devil’s Hole State Park
made inaccessible by the Power Authority access road.
The NHP believes these projects and others listed at
www.niagaraheritage.org (under “Terrorists, Casinos, Creating Jobs”)
to be consistent with its advocacy for restoring the natural environment
of the gorge rim.
these projects, the greenhouse concept has the highest potential to both
create jobs and to be a major tourist attraction and cultural
contribution to our region, environmental, educational, and economic.
It is undeniably ambitious; it requires studies of heat sources
and other investigations; it calls for a creative, open-minded community
willing to consider possibilities and opportunities.
the day the concept was introduced, simultaneously, in fact, Sandra
Hayes, Richard F. Soluri, and David M. Fleck spoke in opposition.
Hayes, director of the Greater Lewiston Business and
Professionals Association, stated that NHP had submitted “various
plans and dreams,” but the “best compromise would be to create
various lookout points on the gorge side of the existing parkway for
motorists to pull over and enjoy the view.”
(Does she know about the NHP position paper on “compromise”
and, if so, why doesn’t she respond to these specifics?)
Hayes seems unaware that vehicle access “lookout points”
already exist on the American side: at the Gorge Discovery Center, at
Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole State Parks, the Power Vista, and at
Artpark. She wants our side
to be like the Niagara Parkway in Canada, and insists the parkway be
kept as “expedient access” to the northtowns from Niagara Falls.
Soluri, Mayor of Lewiston, says the greenhouse concept “is
totally unrealistic.” Since,
however, he proposes that the Power Authority pay for the construction
of a pedestrian bridge over the Niagara River from Lewiston, New York,
to Queenston, Ontario, he may not be the best judge of what’s
realistic or unrealistic.
president of the Niagara Falls Hotel and Motel Association, touts the
Canadian parkway model, too, saying it “would benefit the handicapped
and elderly who aren’t able to walk across parklands and whose only
opportunity to enjoy the vista is from vehicles.”
He thus demonstrates his appalling ignorance of the NHP proposal
which, from its onset six years ago, has incorporated vehicle access to
the gorge rim for the elderly and handicapped and wheelchair users and,
moreover, asks for additional access points for wheelchair users and the
handicapped, and the retrofitting of existing ones.
As pointed out repeatedly, The Injured Workers of New York, Inc.
has endorsed the NHP proposal for parkway removal.
Would the proposal have gained this support if the needs of the
handicapped and wheelchair residents and visitors were ignored?
who owns the Howard Johnsons Hotel near the Falls, and who commutes on
the parkway from his Youngstown residence, sometimes under the annoying
sightseeing helicopters that fly from their home base at his
establishment, is also extremely confused about Frederick Law Olmsted.
Fleck believes that the greenhouse concept, which has the
potential to establish wide bands of greenery and flowering plants
across the stark concrete of the gorge power facility, to be
anti-Olmsted because the “greenhouse, restaurant, and all the rest of
it would be a commercial project.”
Even Frederick would be smiling and scratching his head trying to
make sense out of that.
political and business leaders, Fleck, Hayes, and Soluri have special
responsibilities to be informed on the issues about which they express
opinions. Their elevated
status gives weight to their remarks, which influences others.
When they have the facts wrong or when they refuse to learn the
facts, they do others a disservice.
Perhaps they believe their elevated status exempts them from
considering an issue before they condemn it, that they can say whatever
pops into their heads, whatever is “expedient,” whatever they think
will play well with some constituency.
But they should know it doesn’t play well with the Partnership,
and that we urge others not to be misled by their remarks, but to
carefully consider the NHP arguments before making decisions about an
issue that will impact our region for many years to come.