By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — At least part of the Robert Moses Parkway — an albatross around the neck of downtown Niagara Falls for decades — may be removed sooner than originally expected.
For a time it seemed that the announcement last May was just another effort to bolster the sagging spirits of those convinced that nothing would ever happen with the parkway issue.
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY., pledged earlier that he would strive to “fast-track” a long-delayed plan to remove the southern portion of the parkway from the John Daly Boulevard interchange to Main Street. Noting the initial removal work “mired in bureaucratic red tape for six years,” Schumer disclosed that he was urging the federal Department of Transportation to expedite the $15 million project to link downtown Niagara Falls with the nation’s oldest state park that attracts upwards of eight million annual visitors.
Regional officials of the state Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission confirmed Friday that the final design report and environmental study for the “Riverway” project will be unveiled to the public starting Dec. 13 during an open house, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Art Gallery in the Conference Center Niagara Falls.Consultants will be present to answer questions and the public may also submit written comments at that time.
Copies of the design report also will be available for comment and review, from Dec. 13 to Jan. 31, at city hall, the Niagara Falls Public Library, Main and Lockport streets, and online at nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/public-documents.aspx.
The senator said he is eager to replace the parkway portion with an at-grade road that will provide new waterfront access to the South End of Niagara Falls. Local stakeholders calling for a full removal of that parkway section contend it is critical for future economic development. Once it is taken out, the stakeholders say, private investments would be encouraged.
Schumer’s role is viewed as a solid effort to push the work ahead on the parkway portion that divides just under the American Rapids Bridge to Goat Island, channeling traffic to Main Street and Buffalo Avenue (in front of the Red Coach Inn) or to the main entrance to Prospect Point at the foot of Old Falls Street.
Ironically, whatever changes are finally approved for that upper section, the overall effect should be strikingly similar to the “Riverway,” the route that once extended upstream along the river bank to the Old French Landing, at the eastern boundary of the state reservation (near the Daly Boulevard interchange). Longtime residents will vividly remember that leisurely drive, past stately trees, manicured flower gardens and a picturesque pond called “The Loop.” If the new layout for that land is half as attractive as decades ago, it should be a splendid approach to the falls.
Meanwhile, there’s the endless debate over the future of the northern parkway section, from Main Street to Findlay Drive and perhaps even to the Robert Moses Power Plant. There are cynics out there— some for good reason —who think that plan is moving along as swiftly as a dry creek.
ON THE MOVE: Ellen E. Grant, a former president and chief executive officer of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, has been named a deputy mayor in Buffalo. Mayor Byron W. Brown announced the appointment Thursday.
Grant, 63, who has served as commissioner of senior services for Erie County, will be responsible for overseeing education and health care issues for the Queen city. Her new City Hall post pays $97,853. At present, Grant is a Grand Island resident but plans to move into Buffalo.
THE REAL McCOY?: Item: Kiosk clerk at outlet mall busted for selling fake sports caps. The tip-off should have been the Sabres cap with the Stanley Cup Champs emblem.
ANGRY DRIVER: Overheard at Pine Avenue and Portage Road: “Next time you wave, pal, use all your fingers!” — an irate motorist yelling at a driver for giving the ultimate gesture of defiance.
By Don Glynn firstname.lastname@example.org