Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — The latest battle over the north section of the Robert Moses Parkway resurfaced as the Parkway Preservation Committee held an informational update meeting Tuesday.
Former Lewiston Village Mayor Richard Soluri led the group, which seeks to keep the parkway open and functional from Youngstown to Niagara Falls, in a discussion about the latest information pertaining to the parkway's status in the aftermath of a recent study by Syracuse firm EDR Companies.
Soluri said state parks, responsible for the decision about the parkway, still hasn't supplied a list of six alternatives for keeping the parkway open, and failed to send an attendee to the meeting Tuesday to answer questions.
Still, Soluri is hopeful the two communities which have gone back and forth for decades about the good and bad the parkway creates can finally come together as a community to do what's best for everyone.
"We all have to think like a region," he said. "The state government has invested millions in this community, the federal government has invested millions in the community. Why would they spend more money here to hurt the community?"
Soluri said the parkway continues to provide a direct route between downtown Niagara Falls and the Village of Lewiston, a community made up of mostly Niagara Falls transplants who still drive south to go to work or shop or see the natural sights in the state parks along the way.
He said having the direct route is vital to keeping the connection between the two communities, especially with Lewiston Road still closed due to construction.
He received numerous voices of support, but his view wasn't the only one expressed Tuesday. Lisa Vitello, who is in favor of removing the parkway, said a direct route has never been a reason to keep her or tourists she's had visit her from seeing a sight or getting to a destination.
"There are many, many roads to get here," Vitello, a Falls resident, said. "I've never not gotten someplace just because there wasn't a direct route."
Vitello's views were shared by Town of Niagara resident Paul Gromosiak, who spoke not about a direct route, but about the various state parks along the path of the parkway which could best be accessed by foot.
Gromosiak's views best meet EDR Company's recent proposal, which called for removing the highway section-by-section and replacing it with paved bike paths and more green space and walking trails.
A report on the study said it would take just $3.8 million to remove the roadway and level the ground with soil, as opposed to the $55.5 million needed to reconstruct all four lanes — including the two currently not in use — a number the City of Niagara Falls previously published in 2009.
"The gorge is seven miles long," Gromosiak said. "It's best appreciated on foot and it always will be."