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State leaders getting on same page in Niagara Falls?

They were listed almost as footnotes in the new state deal allowing the Maid of the Mist to stay in business on the American side of the falls.

But state leaders are pointing to recent plans to enhance the Niagara Falls waterfront as big changes that could change the visitor experience for years to come.

Activities like biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding and zip-lining at Niagara Falls State Park are part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to revitalize Western New York with a $1 billion investment.

Fallsbridge

The plans -- announced during Cuomo's visit to Buffalo and Niagara Falls last week -- came days before the state parks agency unveiled a new-look section of the Robert Moses Parkway that would connect pedestrians to the Niagara River.

Some are wondering whether the two plans' similarities are indicative of a new level of cooperation among state bureacrats in Niagara Falls, where a slew of agencies have controlled much of the city's valuable land, often without any clear coordination.

(The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, for instance, controls the most valuable area around the falls and much of the city's waterfront. The state's USA Niagara Development Corp. heads development outside the park. And right between their land sits the Robert Moses Parkway, controlled in part by the state Department of Transportation.)

It was slightly odd last week to sit in a state office building and see design consultants sitting around a table with top officials from the city, state parks, state development and an ally of the governor-- all who were in agreement on the recent waterfront steps.

That wasn't always the case. Just six years ago, the development agency announced plans to make changes to the parkway before state parks but on the brakes to study the initiative more.

Some say the long practice of government agencies acting in their own "silos" in Niagara Falls is slowly eroding, while others caution the cooperation may just be a sign the current waterfront moves are common sense steps -- easy issues to agree on.

We'll see how long the cooperation lasts, especially when the more contentious issue -- the northern section of the Robert Moses -- comes up next year.      

If bureaucracy gives way to progress, though, most say that can only be a good thing for Niagara Falls.

-Charlie Specht (Twitter: @CharlieBuffNews)

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