Goat Island becoming one big Parking lot
Local politicians fiddle as City further deteriorates
While 20http://southbuffalonews.com5 was a tough year for the newspaper business, the Niagara Falls Reporter came through with flying colors.
Bucking the trend, it was a banner year for the Niagara Falls Reporter. A merger with Buffalo’s ArtVoice weekly was a perfect fit, wedding the two newspapers’ missions, continuing traditions of hard-hitting investigative journalism and insightful commentary, and realizing economies of scale. An attractive new web site for the Reporter was recently rolled out, providing readers with more frequent updates.
Whether or not due to the enhanced web presence, we’re noticed an upswing in readership just over the past two months, so we’d like to take this opportunity to extend a heart-felt welcome to our new readers, and also get them “up to speed” in terms of what’s going on here in Niagara Falls.
In case you didn’t know, back in the http://southbuffalonews.com950’s and early ’60’s, the city of Niagara Falls was a powerhouse of industry, its numerous factories driven by cheap, locally-produced hydropower. Twice the number of people lived within the city limits than live here today. Main Street, Pine Avenue, Old Falls Street and Niagara Street’s bustling businesses catered to a prosperous middle class.
Sure, there were negatives back in those halcyon days, one being the influence of the Mafia. Magaddino ran the rackets for all of Western New York from his Niagara Falls lair. Labor unions and the Democratic party completed the triumvirate of local power brokers. From an early age in this city, it was drilled into you to keep your mouth shut and your head down, if you didn’t want bad things to happen to you and your family.
The industry left, and with it the educated and motivated. Many moved out to suburbs like Wheatfield and Lewiston and took their money with them. After a brief stay downtown, the local community college relocated to a sprawling campus on former farmland out in Sanborn. The state, through the New York Power Authority, constructed a massive hydropower generating facility here to replace one lost to a landslide in the Niagara Gorge, and began exporting electricity out of the region with little compensation for the local community.
And a curious relic of the past started to take on more and more significance: Founded in http://southbuffalonews.com885, Niagara Falls State Park and over 80% of the waterfront of the city, stretching from the Grand Island bridge to Buffalo, wrapping around the Niagara River past the falls and north to the city limits, were deeded to the state of New York or, more precisely, Albany. The state’s development of the attraction, including construction of a dedicated roadway into the park that cuts the city off from the river, large parking lots on the former nature preserve and a steadily increasing retail presence consisting of gift and souvenir shops and food concessions, served to sequester the average eight million tourists in the park, giving them little reason to venture into the city.
Another parking lot on Goat Island under construction last week. Eight million tourists visit this park every year, while the city of Niagara Falls suffers from some of the highest rates of per capita crime and poverty in the state.
It took decades, but the city gradually withered and decayed and descended into poverty, and it’s not over yet.
Frederick Law Olmsted wanted vehicular traffic out of the park and in the city, to benefit local businesses. Now signs worthy of a superhighway adorn the former nature preserve.
The past couple of weeks State Parks has been paving yet another parking lot on Goat Island near the falls, as if the hundreds of new spaces they added over the past year in pursuit of their so-called “Landscape Improvements” weren’t enough. The parking lot is being constructed by Scott Lawn Yard, the same outfit that butchered Three Sisters Islands.
Will the two new city council members, and three-term mayor Paul Dyster speak out against this injustice? Doubtful. In fact, as Vice-Chair of the Niagara Greenway Commission, Mayor Dyster approved the state’s “Landscape Improvements” plan, and thus the continuing monopoly State Parks has on the local tourism industry, to the great disadvantage of the city.
Bringing these important issues to the public week after week, for over fifteen years, is why the Niagara Falls Reporter under publisher Frank Parlato’s stewardship is thriving.