Congressman Brian Higgins has only been representing the City of Niagara Falls for a couple of weeks, and is already making a strong effort to help the city reclaim its waterfront. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on Congressman Brian Higgins' proposal to revamp the water's edge and how he plans to finance it.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — When Congressman Brian Higgins thinks of the economic potential of the waterfront in Niagara Falls, he says he sees it as a destination with outdoor shops, arts and streetscapes.
There's only one problem. The Robert Moses Parkway separates the city from its waterfront.
Higgins says the solution is demolishing the interstate.
"We believe that will unleash the extraordinary potential of Niagara Falls, New York as a great waterfront city drawing those millions of people that visit Niagara Falls, Canada every single year," said Higgins.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster agrees.
"I think that correcting this problem would have positive consequences for development and home values," said Dyster.
Higgins is proposing the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which owns the land, pay for the parkway's demolition costs and development afterward.
"They own the land. They evicted the people. They paid for the construction of this, and they should pay for the demolition of it as well," said Higgins.
The Robert Moses Parkway was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, despite much opposition from people in the community.
Dyster says NYPA evicted several people from their homes and says it's only been an economic detriment to the city.
"Homes were displaced and neighborhoods were cut off from access to the river," he said.
Higgins wrote a letter to NYPA asking for approximately $120 million for the estimated cost of the removal of the entire parkway. And with only $5 million available in federal funding, Higgins says NYPA has the resources to finance the project.
"In 2008 alone, the New York Power Authority had a surplus of $309 million," Higgins said.
The New York Power Authority released a statement saying: “We just received Congressman Higgins’ letter on the Robert Moses Parkway and will review it. We will respond in a timely manner and continue to have an open dialogue with the Congressman as we’ve done so in the past.”