Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that NY Works restoration projects are under way in Niagara Falls State Park, making much-needed improvements at the Three Sisters Islands and Luna Island viewing areas.
The NY Works program is investing $2 million for restorations at Three Sisters Islands, which include a new trolley shelter, expanded parking area, new pedestrian walkways and overlooks, enhanced landscaping, as well as new railings. Luna Island will receive $1.187 million in NY Works funding for new pedestrian walkways, overlook improvements, enhanced landscaping as well as new benches, light posts and railings.
"From the sandy beaches of Long Island to the breath-taking Niagara Falls, New York's 178 public parks are truly a state treasure, providing our residents and visitors from around the world a place to experience nature and the beauty of New York state," Cuomo said. "The NY Works program has taken the lead in investing in our state parks, so we can preserve these treasures for future generations and continue to provide all New Yorkers with a place to enjoy the great outdoors. With these investments in Niagara Falls State Park, the many visitors who come each year to see the falls will have a much improved experience as they take in the beauty of one of America's most iconic natural wonders."
Rose Harvey, commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, "These projects will enhance our visitors' experience at Niagara Falls State Park. Both of these locations are very popular vantage points in which patrons can get up close and personal with the falls and the mighty rapids of the Niagara River. The work will not only beautify these locations, but make them more accessible for all of our guests. I want to thank all of our patrons for their patience as we work to finish this project as soon as possible and look forward to welcoming them back to the sites when the work is complete."
These projects represent the second round of a multi-year, $25 million commitment to restoring Niagara Falls State Park, the nation's oldest state park. Funding for the Niagara Falls park revitalization initiative will come primarily from money from the Niagara River Greenway funded by the New York Power Authority under commitments made by the authority in 2005 as part of its relicensing process for the Niagara Power Project hydroelectric dam. State Parks will consult with the Niagara River Greenway Commission on the projects.
Work at the Schoellkopf Overlook and Discovery Center, which began in December 2011, is wrapping up later this year and is also funded through this source.
The improvements announced Tuesday are outlined in a comprehensive landscape improvement plan developed this year 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 illustrious park planner Frederick Law Olmsted's original vision for the park.
Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn will be the contractor on the Three Sisters Island projects, and Mark Cerrone Inc. of Niagara Falls will be the contractor on the work done at Luna Island. Both projects are expected to be completed within a year, and the sites will be closed to the public during various stages of construction.
State Sen. George D. Maziarz said, "Luna and Three Sisters Islands are major tourism draws for this region and are visited by millions of people each year. This funding provides the much-needed restoration to these historic park locations, while restoring the historic Olmsted vision in the process. Furthermore, I am pleased that the restorations will be done by local companies here in Niagara County through Governor Cuomo's NY Works Initiative Program. These restorations will go a long way to provide all visitors and residents a wonderful experience in visiting Niagara Falls."
Assemblyman John D. Ceretto said, "Today is a great day for Niagara Falls. Just over a year ago, I met with Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey to address concerns over the conditions of Niagara Falls State Park. Less than a year later, Governor Cuomo made a $25 million investment in our parks. These capital improvements will make our state park a better destination for the millions of tourists who visit Niagara Falls each and every year."
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Niagara Falls is an international tourism touchstone delicately set in our nation's oldest state park. It's of critical importance that we act as stewards of the Frederick Law Olmsted vision while maintaining the park and preserving the integrity of this incredible natural waterfall. We sincerely appreciate the strong support of New York state in making these upgrades and improvements, which will enhance the falls experience for our millions of visitors."
The NY Works program is tasked with coordinating $1.3 billion in state funding to spur up to $25 billion in investment from other sources, including private companies, the federal government, and authorities, to allow major projects to move forward that will create jobs and improve the state's infrastructure. NY Works will provide $89 million statewide, leveraging $143 million in total funding to rehabilitate dozens of state parks and historic sites, representing the single largest infusion in history of capital dollars for New York's park system.
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 178 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 on Twitter.