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Robert Moses Parkway designs

The Robert Moses Parkway from downtown Niagara Falls to the city's North End will be ripped out. The southern part of the road -- from the North Grand Island Bridge to Niagara Falls State Park -- will remain. (Photo: Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By Charlie Specht


New plans for the Robert Moses Parkway, announced this afternoon, are sure to be viewed as both complicated and controversial.

For those interested in all the details of the plans -- and for those on each side of the argument -- I have posted links to all three of the proposed designs below. 

Keep in mind that all three designs include some common elements like removal of the parkway between Main Street and Findlay Drive, the redesign of Whirlpool Street as a park-like road, and a new multi-use pedestrian trail that ties into surrounding streets.

State officials they will get started on those elements even as the other details -- the future of the parkway north to Lewiston and to state parks along the way -- are figured out.

 After another round of public comment, these three designs (of the original six) will eventually be whittled down to one (designs 1, 2 and 5 have been eliminated):

Design 3: Two-lane park road to Lewiston ($52 million)

Design 4: Parkway removed at Power Project ($49 million)

Design 6: Full parkway removal to Lewiston ($33 million)

Comments on the designs should be emailed to

More on the Moses


The Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls near the Whirlpool Bridge saw little traffic when this photo was taken in 2011. (Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News)


By Charlie Specht

The Robert Moses Parkway has been despised by the City of Niagara Falls since it was built in the 1960s. 

But not all people on the Niagara Frontier want to see the roadway ripped out, as the state is considering. In fact, a small but vocal group of "parkway preservationists" in Lewiston want the road to remain as a direct north-south route for tourists coming from Niagara Falls.

That's just one reason the redesign of the parkway is a complicated issue, and one that likely won't be resolved for another few years. 

Continue reading "More on the Moses" »

Love Canal audio and video


Workers in 2011 found Love Canal-era chemicals in this sewer on Colvin Boulevard in Niagara Falls. Residents say those chemicals rushed into their homes and basements. (Photo: Charles Lewis/Buffalo News)


By Charlie Specht

Here's some audio and video to go along with Part I and Part II of our Love Canal series this weekend. 

The first video, by Derek Gee, is of the Herr family worrying about the health and safety of their children. You get a sense of what the neighborhood really looks like. The second, by Charles Lewis, is a tour of Love Canal with Mike Basile of the EPA.

Also check out this audio of Dan Herbeck and I speaking this morning on WBFO about our series.

Continue reading "Love Canal audio and video" »

Vegas, casino capital, is for families, too

By Charlie Specht

In today's paper you read that Niagara Falls, hoping for another casino, wants to take a page from Las Vegas' tourism playbook.

But who would ever believe that Las Vegas, the casino capital of the country, is actually more family-friendly than Niagara Falls?

Just try going online to plan a family vacation there. Check out this Las Vegas tourism website, which includes more than 30 family and children's attractions in Sin City.

Continue reading "Vegas, casino capital, is for families, too" »

Review online chat with State Sen. George Maziarz

Check out an archive of the live chat we had today on with State Sen. George Maziarz:

Audio: North Tonawanda lawmakers wrap up the year

A planned Walmart on the site of the former Melody Fair theater, pictured above in a file photo taken in May, is the subject of an ongoing federal lawsuit. (Mark Mulville / Buffalo News)

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Walmart. Water pipes. Christmas lights.

Those were some of the issues on the minds of city officials on Tuesday night during the Common Council meeting in City Hall.

Here's my wrap-up story.

Listen to raw audio from the full, 30-minute meeting here:

--Aaron Besecker

Audio: Niagara Falls' latest economic development obstacle

New Falls econ dev director NIAGARA KAY4 LEWIS
Peter F. Kay's salary for next year as the director of economic development for the City of Niagara Falls was cut from $100,000 to $1, effectively pushing him out the door. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

When Niagara Falls lawmakers slashed the salary of the city's economic-development director last week, the man in the job saw it as part of a political spat.

In a story in today's Niagara Weekend, we get more from all sides on the move to oust Peter F. Kay, what it means and what should happen.

Listen to a portion of my interview with Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti conducted after the Council vote:

City Council Chairman Samuel F. Fruscione said he expects there will be a negotiation between lawmakers and Mayor Paul A. Dyster on where the city goes from here.

Fruscione said the Council will have the final say on how much the new person in the job gets paid. He said he favored a salary in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.

Listen to some of what Fruscione told me:

Here's what Dyster said when asked about Fruscione's preference for a salary:

"From what I know of the market, having been through the search for Mr. Kay," Dyster said, "I don't think you're going to get somebody for that dollar amount that's going to have the qualifications necessary to do the job.

--Aaron Besecker

Ulrich continues to tout Canal Street for NCCC culinary institute

LOCKPORT -- Developer David L. Ulrich today continued making his pitch for Niagara County Community College to locate its planned culinary institute on Canal Street.

Ulrich called a press conference for late this morning to formally announce his attempt to lure NCCC's project, which has been planned for several sites, most recently the former Rainbow Centre mall in Niagara Falls.

Locating the culinary institute on the Canal Street block would be a "combination of two good ideas," he said, the college's institute and Lockport's refurbished block on the Erie Canal.

View Canal Street - Lockport in a larger map

7:49 p.m.: Here's the full audio of Ulrich's comments from today's event:

1:52 p.m.: Ulrich called the Canal Street block a "premiere venue" with historical appeal that would give the planned culinary institute a "unique identity."

Ulrich claims his proposal would save the college $5 million in construction fees, since there are already buildings on Canal Street.

He also said the Lockport site provides the opportunity for more of a "culinary campus" than a former mall site does.

Part of Ulrich's proposal calls for parking to be available in a city parking structure, with the city's shuttered ramp at Main and Pine streets either being rebuilt or refurbished.

The cost for the parking ramp project is about $5 million, and the city currently has no funding lined up to pay for it, said Mayor Michael W. Tucker.

The college has sent a representative to look at the Canal Street site, Ulrich said, and he hopes to set up a meeting to discuss the proposal with college officials.

The uniqueness of the site -- located adjacent to the Erie Canal in downtown Lockport -- would be a draw to the student population, according to Ulrich. That population is generally younger and would have a greater interest in a site with a unique identity, he said.

The Lockport site could be ready for the culinary institute in the fall of 2011, Ulrich claims, though Tucker said a new parking ramp could take from a year to 15 months to complete once the plans are finalized.

City officials are about to begin developing a budget for next year, Tucker said.

12:44 p.m.: Here's my story from last month when college officials revealed they received a letter from Ulrich touting the Lockport site.

Here's a previous post where you can see Ulrich's renderings of the project and audio clips from college officials.

Also, read Ulrich's letter to college President James Klyczek.

Check back later for more from today's press conference.

--Aaron Besecker

New parking, traffic restrictions coming near Remington loft project

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon to mark the symbolic completion of about a half-million dollar road resurfacing and streetscape project on the Erie Canal.

Following the 1 p.m. ceremony, Sweeney Street between Oliver and Marion streets was reopened to traffic in front of the Remington Lofts on the Canal project.

The Kissling Interests, headed by Anthony Kissling, is turning the former Remington Rand building at 184 Sweeney into 81 work/live loft apartments. The project also includes a restaurant, a hair salon and a yoga studio.

9:14 p.m.: The streetscape work near the lofts project will mean a change in parking and the speed limit in the area, city officials said tonight.

Public Works Superintendent Gary Franklin asked the Common Council to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on Sweeney, between Main and Oliver streets, as well as on Marion Street between Sweeney and Tremont streets.

Franklin also presented a proposed parking plan that will allow vehicles to park on Sweeney and on Marion.

Under the proposal, about 16 on-street spots would be added on Sweeney between Main and Oliver. Between 20 and 25 spots would be added on Marion.

An unpaved parking lot located next to the Dockside Inn is actually property that's owned by Kissling. That parcel is being turned into greenspace and a paved parking lot, though it hasn't been determined whether there will be public parking in the lot, said Robert Welch, aide to Mayor Robert G. Ortt.

Residents and employees of the refurbished building will park in private lots on the property.

Marion Street will remain a one-way street until renovation work on the former Remington Rand is complete, officials said.

The Council must vote to make any changes before they will go into effect.

1:32 p.m.: The first floor of the project, including some apartments as well as the restaurant, salon and studio, is scheduled to open in November, said Gregory Sehr, president of Upstate Consultants of Buffalo, which is working with Kissling on the project.

Site work began on the project on May 1. R&P Oak Hill Development of Buffalo is the construction manager.

--Aaron Besecker

Audio and images: Lockport developer's proposal for NCCC culinary institute

One of three renderings Lockport developer David L. Ulrich sent to Niagara County Community College President James P. Klyczek for a proposal to locate the proposed culinary arts institute on Canal Street in Lockport.

With no deal yet in place for a proposed hospitality and tourism center in Niagara Falls, Lockport developer David L. Ulrich has thrown a Lockport site into the ring.

Click here to read the story from this morning's paper about the Ulrich's initial pitch to Niagara Community College for the Canal Street block.

6:48 p.m.: Read Ulrich's letter to the college.

Attached to the letter were three pages of renderings. Check out a rendering of the institute, along with a rendering of a site overview and parking.

Here's the site plan rendering.

5:32 p.m.: I spoke with NCCC President James P. Klyczek about Ulrich's proposal after Wednesday's board of trustees meeting. He said the Rainbow Centre mall site in Niagara Falls remains his "preferred" choice for a location. Take a listen to some of our conversation:

I also talked with Bonnie R. Gifford, chair of the college's board of trustees, who says she was impressed by Ulrich's proposal. Here's a clip from our chat:

--Aaron Besecker

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