|Before (above) and After (below): Fifty-two trees were cut, well beyond the footprint of the 7,000 square foot planned police station, in order to turn valuable top of the gorge parkland into more buildings and pavement in the park. You can bet someone is going to make some money on this one.
The State Park police barracks, planned to be built at a site with a beautiful and stunning vista of the gorge - a police barracks with a view - was halted last week.
And the Niagara Falls Reporter was the only one that called it right last week when we reported that the Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation would be halting the construction on the police barracks site work "for now."
All other media called it halted, but that's where they stopped.
Following the Niagara Falls Reporter breaking the story on May 27 that alerted the public that an insane mistake was about to be made in the awful selection of that site, the State Parks, bowing to media and official pressure, said they decided to not build the police station there after all.
We were proven right this week, as parks officials took to defending their top of the gorge location - with the panoramic view - for their new police station, behind the Howard Johnson's Hotel, on valuable state parkland.
We smelled a rat and a rat there is.
Last week, Mark Thomas, western district director for State Parks, told his commissioners, with the media in attendance: "It has come to our attention that there are still questions surrounding the development of police station near the gorge in the north end of the park."
Of course, they were not questions. It was outrage.
But Thomas said, "We are always willing to open up conversation and maintain flexibility and because of that (state) parks is stopping work immediately and reviewing the parks police station relocation project to allow the community and its leaders to reconsider the project, the alternatives and address any concerns they may have."
Note that he said "allow the community and its leaders to reconsider the project."
While he did say there might be "alternatives" to the location, he did not say the parks are definitely going to get another location.
He said the delay is to allow "the community" to "reconsider" using the gorge location.
Then he added, significantly, giving all a clue that this is parks' real intent: "Site remediation work may continue in the short term" at the gorge site.
If the project is halted, why continue site work?
The answer is: it is not halted.
Smart bureaucrats know the best way to get one over on the public is to wait. The public has a short attention span.
The Reporter rightly called it: it is "halted for now."
"Now" being the operative word.
In fact it is not even halted.
Site work will continue.
Meantime, the parkland site has been decimated.
Dozens (we counted 52) healthy, mature trees were cut down.
"We're excited about the great change happening in this park and feel it's important that the community be excited as well," Thomas said to the media.
They're excited alright, but not in the way he thinks.
Readers can count on the Niagara Falls Reporter to keep them abreast of this travesty.