What should become of a stretch of the Robert Moses Parkway, from John Daly Boulevard to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, is a question which holds much interest as evident by the crowd which attended a public meeting on Monday night.
Close to 150 people turned out for the meeting held by the the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation at the Orin Lehman Visitor Center in the Niagara Reservation State Park.
The so called "South Segment" of the Moses Parkway is a remaining vestige of the formerly four lane expressway which when built in the early 60's actually bisected the nation's oldest state park.
A push to restore the Niagara Reservation to its original Frederick Law Olmstead design resulted in much of the Moses being removed from the park in the late 1980's.
Many who attended Monday's meeting were of the opinion the remainder of the Parkway should be removed entirely.
"It should be made purely for pedestrians, so as to return the park to the more natural setting that it was meant to be," said Niagara Falls author and historian Paul Gromosiak, who is also helping to lead the charge to remove the Parkway from where it travels through state park lands north of Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls businessman Frank Parlato also favors removal of the South Segment, but for reasons beyond aesthetics.
"Frankly, the Parkway serves to funnel tourists to the State Reservation, where they pay the state $10 to park, buy souvenir, and dine in state owned restaurants," observed Parlato, lamenting that it gives local merchants little opportunity to cash in on a tourist trade which by official estimates brings more than 8-million visitors annually to the park at the brink of the falls.
"I hope whatever the state has in mind that it will be something that benefits Niagara Falls and not just Albany," Parlato said.
New York State Western Regional Parks Director Mark Thomas stressed that there is currently no actual plan on what to do with the South Segment of the Parkway, and that Monday's meeting was just the very first "scoping" session to let people know that a reconfiguration of some sort will eventually be in the works.
"Nothing at all has been determined yet," said Thomas.
"We want the public's involvement in the entire process and that was why it was so important to invite them in the beginning," Thomas said.