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Consensus building to remove section of Robert Moses Parkway

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It's looking more and more as if a major section of the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls will be removed along the edge of the Niagara Gorge.Various branches of government and agencies seem to be coalescing around what's called 'Alternative Three' in a study underway right now.

The plan would remove the road between the junction with Main Street in the Falls' Downtown and Findlay Drive, leaving the fate of the parkway north of there to a future date.

That would put traffic on city streets in between, with Mayor Paul Dyster saying Lewiston Road will be available after its reconstruction is finished in June.

Officials say the two-mile stretch could be removed within 3 or 4 years and replaced with a low-speed parkway.

USA Niagara President Christopher Schoepflin says removing the section of the parkway will allow for more outdoor recreation.

"One of the things that, to this point in time, hasn't been fully developed is a true outdoor recreational economy: hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding. All of those things are not in any way organized in commerce," Schoepflin said. "That creates a huge opportunity along what is our natural strength here, that river gorge."

State Parks Western Region Director Mark Thomas says removing the road would make parks much larger.

"That land that is now the parkway, from Niagara Falls State Park to Findlay Drive would become park land complete with bikeways, walkways [and] enhancements of the natural environment," Thomas said.

The final tab for planning and design of the road project may run into several million dollars with actual construction expected to cost a little over $20 million.

State Senator George Maziarz says what to do with the parkway should be decided by the city, not the state.

"What does the city want in that area close to the park? That really is up to them. I'd be supportive of whatever the city decided to put in there," Maziarz said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.