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An artist's rendering of the changes proposed for the Cave of the Winds. (Submitted)
An artist's rendering of the changes proposed for the Cave of the Winds. (Submitted)
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Gov. Cuomo announces nearly $9 million in funding awards for Niagara Falls State Parks projects

by jmaloni


Tue, May 13th 2014 02:40 pm

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $9 million in funding awards for two restoration projects at Niagara Falls State Park that underscore the progress being made in support of the Niagara River Greenway as well as the continuing revitalization of the New York state park system.

"New York has some of the most beautiful parks in the nation, and our administration is working hard to ensure the preservation of these spectacular recreational areas for future generations," Cuomo said. "By funding these restoration projects we are building a new and improved Niagara Falls State Park that will continue to attract visitors from around the world for years to come."

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Niagara River Greenway Fund Standing Committee (State Parks Standing Committee) has approved a $3.83 million award for restoration of Terrapin Point, one of two major observation areas overlooking the falls and the lower Niagara Gorge on the New York side. The committee also approved a nearly $5.1 million award for rehabilitation of the plaza adjacent to the Cave of the Winds and pavilion building. Both projects have been deemed consistent with the Niagara River Greenway Plan and are part of the ongoing work in the nation's oldest state park, supported by State Parks and the New York Power Authority, which is providing the funding.

Once complete, Terrapin Point will be ADA-accessible, feature native plantings, a new circulation system, and new pavements and railings - all of which will improve the experience of viewing Horseshoe Falls from this popular vantage point. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2015.

The plaza adjacent to the Cave of the Winds and pavilion building will feature a new comfort station, information/ticket centers, an improved pedestrian circulation system, native plantings, seating, and pavements. Construction is scheduled to begin next month and will be phased in over the next few years.

Commissioner Rose Harvey of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said, "This work continues the incredible makeover of the crown jewel of our park system. Terrapin Point is perhaps the best place to feel the power of the falls and, with this work, more people will be able to enjoy it as well as experiencing it in a more natural setting."

Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO said, "Gov. Cuomo has given the highest importance to the care and improvement of New York's premier park system. The Power Authority is proud to be contributing to this with our Greenway funding for the restoration projects at Terrapin Point and the plaza by the Cave of the Winds along with numerous other initiatives. Together with (State) Parks and other state and local government partners, we're making a major difference for Greenway development in Niagara and Erie counties."

The State Parks Standing Committee receives funds from the Power Authority as part of a settlement agreement related to the 50-year federal license received by NYPA for the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant in 2007.

Along with the State Parks Standing Committee, three other standing committees were created to disperse a total of $450 million in NYPA funding for Greenway development over the term of the Niagara project's operating license. The other committees are the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee, Host Community Greenway Fund Standing Committee and the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee.

"These projects fulfill a multiyear, $25-million commitment to revitalize Niagara Falls State Park, the nation's oldest state park, 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,"

Congressman Brian Higgins said. "It's a perfect example of how the relicensing settlement continues to make meaningful change to the region's natural assets."

State Sen. George Maziarz said, "These necessary improvements continue to transform Niagara Falls State Park into the international attraction it must be if we are to continue to grow our local economy. In addition to low-cost power creating or retaining local jobs, this is a shining example of how NYPA resources can be utilized in Western New York for the betterment of the entire region."

Assemblyman John Ceretto said, "As a former worker at Niagara Falls State Park, it gives me an immense sense of pride to see the state polish the jewel in our city's crown. The falls draw millions of visitors each year and we need to support projects like these to improve the tourism experience and encourage new development focused on meeting the expectations of travelers."

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "This is just another example of how Gov. Cuomo has encouraged various agencies like NYPA, State Parks and the city to work together to enrich the tourism experience at Niagara Falls. We all recognize the natural beauty of the falls will always be the greatest draw at Niagara. Investing Greenway funds to keep the park looking its best will bring returns now and for future generations."

The Niagara River Greenway Commission, a public benefit corporation established to spearhead the development of a Greenway of interconnected parks, river access points and waterfront trails along the Niagara River, ensures Greenway projects are consistent with the Niagara River Greenway Plan. To learn more about the commission, log onto www.niagaragreenway.org.

To learn more about the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, visit www.nysparks.state.ny.us.

For more about NYPA and the relicensing of the Niagara project, log onto http://niagara.nypa.gov.

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