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Recreational land opening up along the Niagara River


Commuters on the Niagara section of the State Thruway are seeing more and more changes in what was often a wasteland between the highway and the Niagara River, land cut off when the road was built in the '50s and '60s. Much of it stayed fallow for decades, but now changes are underway. That includes this spring's construction on Broderick Park on Bird Island, the conversion of the county's Ontario Street boat launch into a rehabbed park, and the formal opening of the Black Rock Canal Park.

That stretch of empty land between the Thruway and the river is starting to fill with recreation possibilities including already open locations like Tow Path Park and the Riverwalk with its pedestrians and bicyclists.

Black Rock activist Tom McDonald says it's a great step forward.

"You live here with the most beautiful waterway in the country and you have to have public access to it. It shouldn't be denied," McDonald says. "That Thruway kind of ruins it, but the more waterfront you can get at the people that pay the taxes and support the city, the better it should be," McDonald says.

McDonald says he can see the difference, from his bicycle or from his boat, of development along the river. He says there is also a model to follow since people can just look across the Niagara River and see what Ontario has done with its riverbank along the Niagara Parkway.

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.
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