For years, there has been a battle in Niagara County that epitomizes parochial thinking. The issue revolves around the Robert Moses Parkway, an 18 1/2 mile stretch of road running from Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario.
The contentiousness has revolved around removal of a stretch of the parkway the runs between Niagara Falls and Lewiston. Publicly, supporters of the removal claim that there are environmental concerns that warrant removal of the portion, including “the current imbalances within the ecological and man-made environments” and “transportation patterns compatible with ecological restoration,” according to Wild Ones Niagara, a group seeking to remove the section.
In reality, the supporters of the removal, including Wild Ones Niagara, a 10 member body which shockingly is made up of people from Niagara Falls, has little interest in preserving history, the environment or anything else they may proclaim.
No, what this comes down to is the demented thinking that if the parkway is removed, there will be one less route for visitors to escape from Niagara Falls, therefore creating some kind of captive audience. This audience, now unable to find a way out of the city, will thus abandon their hope of exploring historic Lewiston and points north, therefore spending money that they would have spent outside of Niagara Falls in the city. Labeling this approach as "twisted" would be an understatement. Sort of like a reverse "if you build it that will come" mentality.
Amazingly, the people of Niagara Falls view tearing up the Robert Moses Parkway as a panacea to what ails them. They want to spend millions of dollars to create a wall around the city that would make Pat Buchanan proud, instead of addressing the real problem: Their inability to cultivate and create an environment that is conducive to growth and private capital investment. Just ask Howard Milstein.
Now, we're not going to go through the litany of problems facing the city, they've been well documented on these pages as well as many others. But the fact remains that the city draws 11 million visitors each year to one of the natural wonders of the world. So what if tourists want to venture to the gorge in Lewiston, the amazing Fort Niagara State Park, the Lockport locks, the North Tonawanda carousel museum or any of the other splendid attractions that our county has to offer. With 11 million visitors to the region, there are enough tourist dollars to go around for everyone.
To think for one moment that killing a path out of the city will help the Main Street corridor thrive is such a distorted example of promoting economic development that it's amazing to think that these people, men and women that are supposedly well respected in their fields, ever came up with a substantive idea to advance economic development.