Phase one provides beautiful landscape for tourists and residents to enjoy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of Phase 1 of the restoration of Prospect Point, which is one of the most popular areas of Niagara Falls State Park. The ribbon-cutting took place at the same time that ground was broken for Phase 2 of the restoration project. The project is part of Governor Cuomo's NY Works program.
"Niagara Falls State Park is one of Western New York's most valuable tourism assets - a stunning natural wonder that attracts millions of visitors from all across the world each year," Cuomo said. "Under our NY Works program, we have completed the first phase of restoring Prospect Point as part of an ongoing project to improve the state park and enhance the experience of those who come to visit. Coupled with our efforts to revitalize the community of Niagara Falls, this investment in the park will help attract more visitors, boost tourism in the whole region, and grow the local economy."
Work completed in Phase 1 included landscape restoration, new railings, benches, light fixtures and walkway surfaces in the main area of Prospect Point. The next phase of the project will involve the lower grove trails to the north and south of the points and will continue the work started at the main point. Work on Phase 2 is expected to be completed by late summer 2014.
Scott Lawn of Sanborn is the contractor for this project, and the total cost is $4,292,000.
Rose Harvey, commissioner, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, "Prospect Point is the place where visitors come to experience the falls in all of their natural grandeur. Millions of pictures are snapped as people try to capture the beauty of the view. Now that Phase 1 is complete, we are a step closer to realizing our vision for the point and the park. We hope that people enjoy relaxing on a new bench and hiking the freshly paved walkways."
Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO at the New York Power Authority, said, "The latest improvements at Niagara Falls State Park underscore the priority being given by Gov. Cuomo to restoring this world-famous tourism attraction - America's oldest state park - to all its splendor. The Power Authority is proud to be supporting the park's revitalization by the acceleration of Greenway funding dedicated to State Parks under the 2007 relicensing of our Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant. The completion of the first phase of the Prospect Point refurbishing is one of the rewards of this support."
State Sen. George Maziarz said, "We see new walkways, benches and lights at Prospect Point. They are just one part of the vision for making our magnificent falls into the international attraction they must be if we are to continue to grow our local economy. Niagara Falls is a magnet for tourists. Each improvement project, new attraction, new hotel adds strength to that magnet, allowing us to hold the tourists in Niagara Falls longer.
Assemblyman John Ceretto said, "The Niagara Falls State Park is a jewel in our city's crown. The falls are the draw for millions of visitors each year. We are working to improve the tourism experience by improving the park, creating a more inviting downtown area and encouraging new development focused on meeting the expectations of travelers. The culinary school, the wine trail and new downtown hotels are all part of Gov. Cuomo's vision for creating an extraordinary tourism destination that will make the entire region proud."
The improvements revealed today are outlined in a comprehensive landscape improvement plan developed in 2012 to restore the most heavily used areas of Niagara Falls State Park, including its primary viewing points, walking trails, historic buildings and plantings. All landscape improvement projects will be consistent with the design principles utilized by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in his original vision for the park.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "In the end, the natural beauty of the falls themselves will always be the greatest draw at Niagara, and the American side provides tourists the opportunity to get up-close and personal with the natural wonder. With so many people looking to visit, the prime viewing areas like Prospect Point need periodic reinvestment if they're to keep looking their best. If their experience at the brink of the falls itself is a positive one, that encourages visitors to walk to the Culinary Institute for a meal, plan a tasting or tour on the Niagara Wine Trail, or enjoy shopping at the expanding Fashion Outlet Mall. Gov. Cuomo and New York state are working hard to enrich the tourism experience at Niagara Falls by encouraging new and improved development and attractions, starting with key investments in the park's iconic Olmsted landscapes. This far-sighted investment will bring returns not only in our lifetimes, but in those of our children and grandchildren."
These projects represent a multi-year, $25 million commitment to revitalize Niagara Falls State Park. Funding for the restoration is coming primarily from a lump-sum advance payment of money that NYPA previously committed to provide for Niagara River Greenway improvements at state parks under the federal relicensing of its Niagara hydropower plant. State Parks will continue to consult with the Niagara River Greenway Commission on the improvement projects.
The improvements are part of a statewide revitalization of the park system. Last year, Cuomo and the State Legislature authorized the NY Works program to provide $89 million statewide to move forward with more than 100 overdue projects to improve 55 parks and historic sites and spur job creation and economic development. This year, a second round of $90 million in NY Works funding is advancing an additional 90 projects to upgrade and repair more than 50 state parks and historic sites across New York.
Listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, Niagara Falls State Park attracts more than 8 million visitors a year. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow along on Twitter.