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Parkway Removal Debate Continues

By James Hufnagel

The Erie Canal was built quicker than it takes to figure out what to do with the Robert Moses Parkway.
From the date that John F. Kennedy challenged America to put a man on the moon and its successful
accomplishment, eight years and two months had passed. It’s already been eight years since the MOU was signed to remove/reconfigure the Robert Moses Parkway.
It was clearly easier to land a man on the moon than to figure out what to do with the Robert Moses Parkway.

It's been eight years to the month since New York State Parks, USA Niagara, the NYS Dept. of Transportation and the city of Niagara Falls signed a memorandum of understanding to remove/reconfigure the north section of the Robert Moses Parkway. Last week at an open house at the Niagara Falls Conference Center, State Parks unveiled its plans for future disposition of the parkway: either total removal or removal up to Findlay Drive.

However, according to State Parks, no actual construction or removal is anticipated to take place for another two years, during which time further planning, design and engineering, and yet more public hearings and scoping sessions will drag on.

That means a decade will have elapsed between the time the four government bureaucracies concluded that something must be done about the concrete albatross that strangles the city off from the scenic Niagara Gorge and funnels tourists exclusively into Niagara Falls State Park, and when the project will finally commence.

Perhaps it's understandable that such a grand undertaking would take an entire decade. The Herculean task of busting up the pavement of the Moses Parkway and replacing it with trees, trails and open space, presents such a challenge for modern-day government.

But we know they will come through, someday. As an encouragement to the state agencies who have proven themselves so eager to move us forward, we decided to delve into history and come up with some examples of far simpler government projects from days of yore before scoping sessions, stakeholders, master plans and environmental impact statements became tools by which the government obfuscates, delays and impedes.

For example, the 360-mile Erie Canal was dug mostly by hand and mule from one end of the state to the other and included the construction of 83 locks. Ground for the canal was broken on July 4, 1817 at Rome, New York, and completed on October 26, 1825. That's 8 years, 4 months. How did they ever pull it off without 200-page glossy reports prepared by consultants?

President Coolidge signed the bill authorizing the Hoover Dam on Dec. 21, 1928. The dam was dedicated on Sept. 30, 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. That's a project duration of 6 years, 9 months. They even built a road on top, like the parkway across the Niagara Power Project, that you can drive on, or at least you could until 9/11 happened.

In a letter dated August 2, 1939, Albert Einstein alerted President Roosevelt to the possibility that atomic fission may be harnessed to create a bomb. Five years and 11 months later, on July 16, 1945, the first nuclear explosion took place at Alamogordo, New Mexico. And these people were so dumb that they couldn't even put together a decent Powerpoint presentation if their life depended on it!

It's safe to say nobody thought about D-Day before Pearl Harbor occurred on Dec. 7, 1941, but no problem for the can-do generation, because D-Day took place a mere 2 years and 6 months later, employing newly-developed logistical techniques that are still used by corporations today. It's said the Allies removed a few highways themselves on their way to Berlin.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth, which we accomplished a scant 8 years and 2 months later, on July 21, 1969. JFK probably would have liked the Moses Parkway, which allows a man to land in Niagara Falls and return safely to Lewiston.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Feb 26 , 2013