Congressman says existing plan is in violation of federal regulations
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is applauding a decision by New York state to halt preliminary site preparation work on a project to locate a new State Parks Police station on the Niagara Falls gorge. Higgins not only opposes the plan for the lasting effect it would have on limiting public access to the Niagara Falls waterfront, but he said the project currently fails to meet necessary federal requirements.
In a letter to the state commissioner for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Higgins wrote, "in order for Niagara Falls to maximize its potential as a destination, the land uses in close proximity to the falls and the gorge should be those which facilitate, rather than limit, public access."
In the correspondence, Higgins said that, because the New York Power Authority owns the property, land use changes require review and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a process that has not yet happened.
Higgins has been a champion for waterfront development in Buffalo and fought for and won an agreement that provides NYPA funding for the partial removal of the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls, a project which will help reconnect the city with the water's edge. Higgins's office was also involved in negotiations that will provide for the relocation of the historic chimney, which would have been impacted by the Robert Moses Parkway removal project.
"I very much value the good work of OPRHP generally, and the Parks Police specifically, but this proposal need to go back to the drawing board, as administrative facilities of any kind are not the highest and best use for the land on top of the Niagara Gorge," Higgins wrote.