Host communities entitled to spend money as needed
As a longtime planner for both Niagara Falls and Niagara County who also served twice as city manager and as a negotiator for the Town of Niagara during the meetings on the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, I would like to respond to the front-page News article: “Define Greenway.” I suggest that there is a fundamental disregard for the Robert Moses Power Project relicensing process. It was essential to the Power Authority that it secure the approval and consent of the host communities.
Very simply, the host communities are those communities and taxing entities that are the hosts to the Power Project: the towns of Lewiston and Niagara, the City of Niagara Falls, Niagara County and the Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara Falls school districts. These are the communities that have paid the price of hydropower for 50 years and will continue to be impacted for the next 50 years. Also dramatically affected is the Tuscarora Nation, dealt with separately. This was clearly spelled out during the numerous required scoping sessions that preceded the relicensing.
It should come as little shock that other entities would seek funds from the Power Authority. What is surprising is that outsiders would seek to control host communities’ funds negotiated as reparations in recognition of their sacrifices: past, present and future. These are not “Greenway funds.” They may be subject to overview by the Greenway Commission, as provided in the state legislation, but as an object lesson for future lawyers, they should also review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s rules and regulations.
Obviously there are those who wish the Greenway Commission had veto power over host community funds. As David Colligan states, the Niagara River Greenway may be “another unfunded mandate from Albany.” When viewed in this context, host community expenditures are not “haphazard” but merely the individual use of their own money. Finally, the most pleasing aspect of the host communities was the ability of all these diverse communities to come together on sharing of funds.