April 24, 2012
EARTH DAY SHEDS LIGHT ON SOLAR PROJECT, PARK REHABILITATION: Niagara Falls State Park slated for $25 million revitalization through New York Work program
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey today announced a new solar panel project at Niagara Falls State Park as well as highlighted details of the state's $25 million commitment to revitalize Niagara Falls State Park, that was recently announced as part of Governor Cuomo's New York Works initiative.
Through a $15,050 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), state park electricians were trained by staff from Alfred State College and certified to install the 38 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. The units will generate 8.7 kilowatts which will produce power to operate many of the interactive displays in the Discovery Center. This compliments many other green initiatives at Niagara Falls State Park and is just the first of three solar projects that will also be commissioned at Letchworth and Allan Treman State Parks.
"Niagara Falls is a natural wonder and a landmark of the conservation movement," Harvey said. "It's fitting that as we celebrate Earth Day we focus on how the state is helping our nation's oldest state park remain a leader in conservation and an incomparable place to appreciate nature's splendor."The solar installation is a key component of an overall energy/environmental program in Niagara Falls State Park that includes the replacement of diesel powered vehicles to natural gas, addition of electric on and off road vehicles, the implementation of water collection programs and advanced technology programs.
"Solar projects like the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center demonstrate the State's commitment to the deployment and production of renewable energy, with solar being a critical component in the State's diverse renewable energy portfolio," said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. "Through Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative, the State's investment in solar power will be beneficial not only in terms of making solar more affordable for all New Yorkers but reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on our environment."
In addition to the panel project, Commissioner Harvey released details of the projects that will be included in the $25 million that was included in the newly enacted budget. Niagara Falls State Park is the focus of the funding and several of the projects included will be aligned with findings in a landscape improvement plan the agency recently approved.
The projects include:
o Restoration of popular scenic overlooks including: improvements to Stedman's Bluff, Luna Island, Terrapin Point, and Prospect Point; improvements to traffic circulation on Goat Island; restoration of the North Shoreline and Gorge Trails; and reconstruction of the Falls Street Entrance, bus loop area, and the entrance to Parking Lot 1
o Design and installation of a park-wide way-finding and signage program o Design costs for rehabilitation of the American Falls Pedestrian Bridgeo Replacement of the Niagara Scenic Trolley fleeto Renovation of the Cave of the Winds Complex to include improved landscaping, utilities and building updates
o General infrastructure improvements to include replacements and upgrades to water, sewer, storm water and electric systems, and updated point of sale and communications systems
"Governor Cuomo is committed to spurring job creation in western New York, and Niagara Falls State Park is a huge asset to the region's economic future," Harvey said. "The park welcomes more than 8 million visitors annually. The New York Works investment will provide visitors with a memorable and enjoyable visit to the Falls, and ensure our flagship park remains competitive as a top international tourism destination and a force in the region's economy."
"I'm very excited for today's announcement of these new projects and what they are going to do for this area," said Senator George D. Maziarz. "This investment in and around Niagara Falls, will go a long way in continuing to showcase all that this region has to offer. I applaud Commissioner Harvey and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and I thank them for their continued support of Niagara County.
"This new funding for Niagara Falls State Park is much needed," said Assemblyman John Ceretto. "We must ensure that Niagara Falls State Park remains a magnet for tourists, while maintaining its historic beauty and dignity. This funding assures both."
"I am thrilled that this year's budget will earmark funding for the repair and restoration of roads, bridges and public green ways. In Niagara County, this funding will allow us to make much needed repairs to Falls Street, improve the pedestrian bridge at the Falls and renovate the Cave of the Winds complex," said Senator Mark Grisanti. "By investing in infrastructure improvements now, we will create jobs, stimulate new business and build a stronger regional economic base."
"Finally, after years of taking the tourism industry for granted, we are finally treating it with the respect it deserves. Like other industries that we count on to produce jobs and investment, the tourism industry requires infrastructure. Any facility that sees 8 million visitors a year is going to get footworn over time. That's why it's great to see Governor Cuomo making key investments in the facilities most important to improving our visitors' experience, from the viewing areas immediately adjacent to the Falls to the beautiful Gorge trail system. These forward-looking investments will help ensure more beautiful, user-friendly parks and a healthier tourism economy for decades to come," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
The New York Works Fund and Task Force will coordinate $1.3 billion in State funding to spur up to $25 billion in investment from other sources, including private companies, the federal government, and authorities, to allow major projects to move forward that will create jobs and improve the State's infrastructure. Funding for the Niagara Falls State Park revitalization initiative will come primarily from Niagara River Greenway monies provided to State Parks by the New York Power Authority, under commitments made by the authority in 2005 as part of its relicensing process for the Niagara Power Project hydroelectric dam. State Parks will consult with the Niagara River Greenway Commission on the projects.
The Landscape Improvement Plan, completed by the firm Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects, is just one component of a larger planning effort that will guide state investments in revitalizing at Niagara Falls State Park. To see the plan, please click http://www.nysparks.com/parks/attachments/NiagaraFallsNiagaraFallsLandscapeImprovementsPlan.pdf www.nysparks.com.
A 2009 study by Parks and Trails New York found State Parks in Western New York have a substantial impact on the regional economy. In Erie and Niagara Counties, spending by State Parks and its visitors generate $569 million in private business sales and support 4,700 private sector jobs.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518.474.0456 or visit www.nyparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.