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Morinello, Ortt not in favor of Goat Island lodge


Mon, Feb 27th 2017 01:05 pm

Republican New State Sen. Rob Ortt issued the following statement Monday regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to build a world-class lodge on Goat Island in Niagara Falls State Park. Last week, Ortt sent a letter to the governor voicing his opposition and concerns with the plan.

Ortt said, "I fully support much-needed public-private investments in the City of Niagara Falls. In the past several years, we've taken concrete steps to enrich the Falls tourist experience by improving the landscape and protecting the environment. We've done this while also focusing on rebuilding the economy and enhancing the quality of life for Falls residents. The proposal for a lodge on Goat Island runs contrary to the steps we've taken and the overall master plan for Falls development. A state lodge within the park would create unnecessary competition for hotels in the downtown corridor and divert revenue directly from the city to the state - all while discouraging tourists from extending their stay in the city. This is simply the wrong project in the wrong location."

Click HERE to download the letter.

In mid-January, while appearing at a press conference, Cuomo said, "We also understand that we need to generate more activities for tourists on the Niagara Falls side of the falls. When you look across the river, you see Canada has more activities. ... We need to correct that, and we're going to do it in Niagara Falls. On Goat Island, we will create a year-round destination for tourism and build a world-class lodge with sweeping views of the Niagara River.

"(Empire State Development) will also be issuing (a request for proposal) to build greater outdoor activities on Goat Island that will boost tourism and give people an international destination to visit. So we're very excited about that."

In a letter to Cuomo sent Thursday, Republican Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello offered the governor an alternative to his proposed construction of a year-round lodge on Goat Island.

"I applaud the governor and his innovation to create a destination where visitors can experience all that the Niagara Reservation has to offer," Morinello said. "However, it is my opinion that this proposed lodge be built in DeVeaux Woods Park. The DeVeaux Woods location offers much of the beauty of Goat Island while taking into account the reservations many Niagara Falls residents hold."

Morinello said the DeVeaux Woods Park would offer visitors access to both hiking and biking in native woods as well as proximity to both the gorge and the falls. The location of the park also has the benefits of an international train station within walking distance, direct access to Whirlpool State Park, and it can serve as anchor for nearby Main Street.

The assemblyman said a shift from Goat Island to DeVeaux Woods would not only prove to be a desirable tourist attraction, but also positively stimulate the economy of the surrounding area. The transfer, he said, would serve as a win-win for all parties involved.

"The prospect of investment in our community by the governor is exciting and one I am thankful for," Morinello said. "It is my hope that we can work together to use his team's vision in coordination with the insight of our local residents, and create a tourist destination that is beneficial to both travelers from across the globe and local residents. I look forward to his consideration of my proposal."

Morinello said the governor's proposal comes with pushback from the residents of Niagara Falls, who wish to see Goat Island remain true to its original design as a historic preserve.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the original founder of the Goat Island vision, "wished for the area to remain a park where visitors could observe the beauty of the falls and experience the same natural wonder he experienced upon discovery," Morinello's camp said.

Click HERE to download his letter.

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