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Activists Push for Reconsideration of Goat Island Development Plans

A group of activists concerned with the recently announced plans for a lodge building on Goat Island have come together to petition the state to revise their plans and leave the island as Olmsted intended. Their full letter is below:

 

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor of New York State, NYS State Capitol Building, Albany, NY 12224

Members of the New York State Legislature

Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

We are expressing our opposition to the proposed lodge to be built on Goat Island in the Niagara Reservation[1]. We believe this violates the spirit and intent of the actions that created the Reservation more than 125 years ago. We feel that the proposal would fly in the face of the goals of the Free Niagara movement that created the park to be “Forever Free”: literally, with no charge for the public to enter the reservation and further for it to be free from exploitation by commercial or industrial development. That spirit has been respected, and by some revered, for more than a century. It is incumbent upon the leaders of the State of New York, stewards of this environmentally sensitive site declared to be a National Historic Landmark more than 50 years ago, to continue the protection of the treasure that is Goat Island and all of the Reservation.

At its inception, the State of New York engaged renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to restore the park in a manner that reflected the vegetation natural to the site. Additionally, Olmsted designed access for the public to be able to experience nature through “pensive contemplation”. He was well aware of the growing numbers coming to the view the Falls and he provided vehicle as well as pedestrian access to handle the expected crowds, always with the intent that the pedestrian would be given deference while visiting the park.

Olmsted further states that no development “can be built upon the island that will not in some degree dispossess, obscure and disturb elements of its distinctive natural scenery” and he reminds the State that in doing so it would be “in competition with the people of the village of Niagara”. Surely those very words are as valid today as they were when written and, like the leaders of the State at that time, those leading our government today, in our opinion, should wholeheartedly embrace them.

The vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and the Free Niagara Movement created an experience unequalled anywhere and one that draws to us people from around the globe. It is our opinion that the placement in the Niagara Reservation of any commercial development such as the proposed lodge will negatively impact that experience. We ask that you not tamper with a beloved landmark and let it continue to be a site of natural beauty that has brought millions of satisfied visitors to our area.

Respectfully,

 

Tom Yots, former City of Niagara Falls Historian and former Chair of the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission.

656 Lafayette Avenue

Buffalo NY 14222

 

Chris Stoianoff, former City of Niagara Falls Historian and former member of the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission.

5819 Grauer Road

Niagara Falls NY 14305

 

Marge Gillies, Preservationist

1175 Oak Place

Niagara Falls, NY 14304

 

Paul Gromosiak, Local History Expert, Author and Consultant

245 Bassett Road Apt. 14

Amherst, NY 14221

 

Lynda Schneekloth, Professor Emerita, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo.

601 W Ferry Street

Buffalo, NY 14222

 

Pam Smith, former member of the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission.

815 Vanderbilt Avenue

Niagara Falls, NY 14305.

 

Louise Yots, creator of the Niagara Greeters Program.

656 Lafayette Avenue

Buffalo NY 14222

Note: response may be sent to tomyotspreservation@gmail.com or to the above mailing addresses.


[1] “…On Goat Island we will create a year-round destination for tourism and build a world-class lodge with sweeping views of the Niagara River.”, Transcript of Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State speech in Buffalo, The Buffalo News, on-line, January 9, 2017.

 

Written by Mike Puma

Mike Puma

Writing for Buffalo Rising since 2009 covering development news, historic preservation, and Buffalo history. Works professionally in historic preservation.

View All Articles by Mike Puma
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