As the race in the 62nd State Senate District rumbled down the home stretch, incumbent Sen. George D. Maziarz accused his opponent, Amy Hope Witryol, of favoring the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway outside the City of Niagara Falls. Witryol said that is not her position.
In a candidate forum Tuesday night in the Niagara Falls Public Library, Maziarz, R-Newfane, said redirecting traffic south of Findlay Drive onto Main and Whirlpool streets would be a boon to downtown development.
He said the rest of the parkway north to Youngstown should be improved, saying it is important to the economies of Lewiston and Youngstown and helps bring visitors to Old Fort Niagara. Maziarz claimed that “Witryol’s supporters” back removal of the entire parkway.
“My opponent supports a plan that would put thousands of cars in residential streets in the Deveaux neighborhood,” Maziarz said, claiming that such traffic would go past Maple Avenue School.
During the forum, Witryol, a Lewiston Democrat, charged that Maziarz had told an audience at the Lewiston Senior Center that he would keep the entire parkway intact. She has expressed her support for the Niagara Falls Comprehensive Plan of 2009, which calls only for studying all options for the area north of Findlay Drive.
After the forum, The Buffalo News asked Witryol if she supports removal of the parkway north of Findlay Drive. She replied, “Unless there is a compelling public safety, economic or environmental reason, not at this time.”
As for the fort, Witryol said, “Visitorship to Old Fort Niagara does not depend on any particular road.
Maziarz issued a statement Thursday saying, “The full closure of this parkway would significantly hurt those businesses in Lewiston, Youngstown and Porter, whose major clientele comes from those who travel to their communities using the Robert Moses Parkway. Any support for full closure of the Robert Moses Parkway is an action supporting the closure of all the small businesses in upper western Niagara County and Old Fort Niagara.”
Robocalls to homes in the affected area pounded home the message.
In an email to The News, Witryol said Maziarz “fabricated a position for me, adding trademark demagoguery by choosing a school route. ... Let him try to assert that everyone who voted for the [comprehensive] plan wanted to go to the city line, insisting all traffic go through Deveaux past a school, forever. Yet another fairy tale invented to distract from Maziarz having the worst property tax record of any state senator in the entire United States, after 18 years in office.
“My position would be guided by the public consensus on the options presented by competent professionals based on public input,” she added. “I won’t prejudge what the public wants. As a state senator, I’ll be advocating for the public’s position.”