Power Authority approves $2 million toward removal effort
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, applauded action by the New York Power Authority board of trustees to approve $2 million toward a project to remove portions of the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls.
Just one year ago, in the first days after assuming representation of the City of Niagara Falls, Higgins called on NYPA to pay for Robert Moses Parkway removal and laid out his argument in a detailed document titled "The Niagara Falls Waterfront: NYPA's Responsibility for the Robert Moses Parkway." Higgins later pointed out what he called a community injustice created by the Robert Moses Parkway when he stood with Mrs. Mamie Simonson, whose home was taken against her will by NYPA in 1959 and demolished to allow for construction of the RMP.
NYPA funding will pay for engineering and environmental clearance for phase one of the Robert Moses Parkway project, officially called the Niagara Gorge Corridor Project, which extends from NYS Route 104 (Main Street) to Findlay Drive in Niagara Falls. According to the agreement, NYPA will pay for:
•Design/planning for the removal of the current expressway facilities, bridges and other associated features of the Robert Moses Parkway in this segment;
•Design/planning for landscape/habitat restoration of the Niagara Gorge rim landscape on land to be reclaimed from the parkway removal; and
•Design/planning for the full-depth reconstruction of Whirlpool Street, which directly adjoins the current alignment of parkway, as a conventional, at-grade, landscaped street to provide all north-south access in this portion of the corridor.
Higgins spoke about the significance of this action today on the Floor of the House of Representatives:
"Mr. Speaker, today the New York Power Authority took an important step toward righting a historic wrong by providing funding to remove the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls.
"Niagara Falls is a national treasure, drawing millions of visitors each year.
"However, with the construction of the Robert Moses Parkway in the 1960s, the New York Power Authority created both economic and physical barriers to Niagara Falls and arguably the greatest waterfront in the world.
"For Niagara Falls, it's not about tearing something down, it is about building something up.
"Removal of the parkway is a critical step in giving the city the waterfront it deserves and unleashing the limitless economic potential that comes with it.
"The New York Power Authority did the right thing, and the future of Niagara Falls will be better because of it."
After initially laying out his position on NYPA support for Robert Moses Parkway removal, Higgins met with NYPA board of trustees Chairman John Koelmel and has had subsequent conversations with NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones.
Higgins, who negotiated the $279 NYPA relicensing settlement in 2006, which is now funding Buffalo's waterfront development, commended NYPA leadership.
"It is a different day at the New York Power Authority," he said. "Gil, John and Gov. Cuomo have been thoughtful partners in our effort to help Niagara Falls reclaim and rebuild arguably one of the most incredible waterfront destinations in the world, and we look forward to continuing our work with them to see this and other projects through."