Restore Delaware Park to its former grandeur

In 1885, a bunch of nature-loving, obstructionist do-gooders managed to get a job-losing, profit-crushing scheme passed in Albany that would guarantee increased state spending, all so they could take a look at Niagara Falls for free. This horrifying piece of legislation created Niagara Falls State Park, the first state park in the nation and the destination of millions of visitors every year.

The new park did indeed entail the loss of jobs as scores of factories that lined the banks of the river and the falls were demolished to create the park’s green space, and free admission meant no more pretty profits for those who had fenced off the falls and charged a high fee for a glimpse. Does anyone today question the wisdom of this course of action? We cannot imagine our region today without this park.

And why do I relate this tale when ostensibly writing about the Scajaquada Expressway? It is to show that the idea of downgrading the expressway to a regular city street or even taking it out of Delaware Park altogether is clearly not just a wild-eyed fantasy, but is rather a quite feasible, and desirable, undertaking.

If we eliminate the highway from the park, there will be drivers inconvenienced, and some who warn of “carmageddon” for the neighboring streets. But we will soon adjust, finding alternative routes, or simply allowing a few extra minutes to get to our destinations.

And in the end, our community’s grandest park will again be whole, we will enjoy its full benefits of health and beauty, and the community will be more connected for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Todd Mitchell