March 22, 2016

Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces $42 Million Project to Remove Two-Mile Stretch of Robert Moses Parkway and Enhance Access to Niagara Falls Waterfront

Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces $42 Million Project to Remove Two-Mile Stretch of Robert Moses Parkway and Enhance Access to Niagara Falls Waterfront

Project will reopen waterfront access to Niagara River Gorge from city streets; increase recreational opportunities Photos of the proposed project are available here Governor launches competition encouraging New Yorkers to propose a new name for the Robert Moses Parkway Online submissions will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 30, 2016 at

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will replace an underutilized two-mile stretch of the Robert Moses Parkway North in Niagara Falls with open space, scenic overlooks and recreational trails to make the waterfront more accessible to residents, tourists and visitors alike. The project marks the largest expansion of green space since the Niagara Reservation was designed in 1885, and will link the Niagara River Gorge and Falls into a single destination to allow easier access to the water’s edge.

More information on the announcement is available here.

VIDEO of the announcement is available on YouTube here and in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is below:

“Well it is a pleasure to be back. I tell you, you have the luxury of being here every day but when you come back in and out the way I do it is amazing - the growth, the energy, the positivism that is all throughout the Niagara Buffalo region. It really is special, congratulations to all of you for really doing a great job reclaiming your community.

I love your mayor, he's got the energy, he's go the optimism, and leadership counts. Leadership makes a difference and Mayor Dyster is a great, great leader and he is doing a great job for the city.

We thank Cindy for all the great work she does as the chair of the Niagara Frontier State Park Commission. All the time she has been dedicating to preserving the region's beauty - Cindy, thank you very much for what you do.

You have the state powerhouse team here - no pun intended – John Koelmel, let's give him a round of applause. Gil Quinones and Rose Harvey from Parks, let's give them a round of applause.

Before I start today on the good news we have a little bad news that we should acknowledge. There was a terrible situation in Brussels this morning that brings back all sorts of memories for New Yorkers and is a sad reality now internationally, another act of suspected terrorism. In some ways, this is now the new normal. They talk about the new normal in terms of weather and extreme weather as part of the new normal is this international scourge of terrorism that can strike anywhere, anytime. We have seen it here, not just in large tragic situations like in 9/11, but we’ve seen it in San Bernadino, California. We saw it in Rochester, New York. So it is an international plague and we want our brothers and sisters in Brussels to know that we stand with them. Their pain is our pain. We will remember them in our prayers today. We are going to be redoubling our efforts today here in this state at our airports, our terminals, train terminals, etcetera, as we have before. But it’s so clear that the only solution, the only resolution is going to be coalition building among our allies against those who would spread fear and terror, period, and that has to be the way forward.

And we want Brussels to know the way the world came together for us after 9/11, we will never forget, we will always appreciate and we will be there for Brussels. Whatever they need, they should ask the state of New York and we will deliver. Let’s give them a round of applause.

Well it is so exciting to be here because you know, for many years, I would come and I would look across the Falls at the Canadian side and you would see all of this construction, all of this development and all of this activity and you would say to yourself, “Why there? Why not here? Why not on both sides of the falls? Why all of that development there and none here?”

There was no good reason why. Money, it takes money to make money. They had money and they had investment and they had energy and they had partners, and we didn't. That is all it was. Same exact asset base, I would argue our asset base had the advantage but they had partners who were helping. The partner who should have been helping in this case was called the state of New York. The capital is in Albany. They should have been more present and more active in Western New York. It doesn't make me feel good to say it but that is the truth. Western New York was going through an economic transformation, manufacturing jobs were leaving, it was the way of the world. But now we have to reinvest, and we have to transform into the economy of tomorrow and you needed help to do that, and the state government should have been there to be of help. It wasn't.

We came in five years ago, we said we are going to change the direction 180 degrees, and we announced the one billion dollars for Western New York. This was one of my first acts, it was very popular in Western New York, it was very unpopular everywhere else besides Western New York. It is one of those situations where you think through the right thing and you forgot about the consequences. One billion dollars for Western New York and every other regions said "what about us?" But it was exactly right because Western New York was one of the areas that was most disadvantaged, had paid the highest price for the economic transformation, and had the least attention from Albany. We wanted to say one billion dollars because we wanted to say, "we are serious about this, this is not just another government plan that is out there, it's not just another 'I have a new plan for revitalization.'" People have heard to many plans and they have stopped believing. One billion dollars said I am going to put my money where my mouth is. It was nice and simple, blunt and clear. Boy it has been working. You see the development everywhere. The Mayor mentioned four new hotels, $64 million is going into the Niagara Falls State Park thanks to Rose Harvey who is doing a brilliant job. The reconstruction on 990, the culinary institute the Maid of the Mist. You see all over now activity going on. I was in Buffalo this morning, it is unbelievable what is going on in Buffalo. Buffalo and Niagara Medical Campus, 7,000 jobs in 2003, 17,000 in 2017, how unbelievable is that?

In Buffalo I saw something that brought it all home to me. I was in a car one day stopped at a light and I see these four or five young kids on a street corner. They are looking up, and I am looking out the window to see what they are looking at, it must have been a bird or something and they are just looking up and I see nothing in the sky. So I pull up and I said to the kids "what are you looking at?" They said they were looking at the cranes. There were construction cranes in the sky, they had never seen construction cranes like the cranes in the sky. Why? Because you hadn't had that kind of development, you weren't building high-rise. They had never seen cranes. So now the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus, all over Buffalo, the energy and just the way that negative energy begets negative energy, positive energy begets positive energy and there is synergy and people are believing. People believing is a very powerful economic asset in and of itself. People having confidence in the system.

I was in the Clinton Administration, President Clinton said to the secretary of the treasury, Bob Rubin, “how do we really get the economy going?” Bob Rubin had a very dry sense of humor said, you have to increase consumer confidence.” Clinton said, “Great, how do we do that?” Bob said, “I don’t know.” The sense of confidence begets more confidence, people believe in the economy and that it is coming back, they do an extension on their house, they open a second business, they invest, they tell their children to stay here, that the future is here and that your home will go up in value. You can feel that now feeding upon itself. And it is a beautiful enterprise to be part of and it is only getting stronger.

Now, part of what we are talking about and what we are doing is correcting past mistakes. The Robert Moses parkway, sometimes we have great intent and we execute it poorly. Robert Moses parkway was not a good idea to put it in the place that it was placed. The mayor is exactly right and then for a lot of year, we talk about how, “we should really take up the Robert Moses parkway.” But it was said in that vein of, “we could never do this. But we should take up the Robert Moses parkway. But you couldn’t.” Why? “Because it is too big, too bold, too expensive. It is just too ambitious. Too ambitious.” And part of my point was that there is nothing too ambitious for New York. We lost our mojo, forgetting who we are we better look in a mirror. Too ambitious for us? We are a state of people who were told “you can’t” right? And we said, “yes we could!” That is part of bringing back western New York’s energy and growth. Believe in you. It is a highway, it is asphalt and concrete, we get a shovel and we hit it enough times it cracks up, it gets loose, we pick it up and we put it in a truck and there is no more highway. That is just what it is.

So don’t tell me that we can’t do it and as a metaphor for yes we can, yes we can do big things, yes we can make this a better place, yes the future can be brighter. Doing the Robert Moses parkway is just that. It is just that. We all knew it was a mistake but it was there and for too long and nothing was done about it and now we said we are going to come back and we are going to redo it and we are and this is just the first phase. Today I am pleased to announce $40 million to do the second phase and to complete the project.

Now it is great for the local community to have access to the river which they were long denied but it is also great as an expansion of tourism because tourism is the meal ticket here that is what is growing the economy and opening up that park and opening up that river is going to change the whole ambiance of the experience. You put that together with the other projects that are going on, the hotels, etc. We now have the Seneca Casino working well. It is a totally different day.

We have found our way, now we just have to keep it going. By the way, my suggestion on the Robert Moses Parkway – it’s a new parkway, it’s a new day, we should rename the Robert Moses Parkway. We should make it a competition. We should put it online and let school kids come up with ideas because it is a great, great metaphor again, for the rebirth and for going forward and that's what we should do. It is working. What we are doing is working and I am right now, discussing the next year's budget with the State Legislature, which is always a pleasure, and I'll leave it at that. But, in this budget, I have the most aggressive investment program for Upstate New York in the history of the state of New York - $25 billion. And why today is important, because when you do the budget in that Capitol building, you're just talking about numbers on paper. What today reminds us is, it's not about numbers on a piece of paper. These are projects that can transform lives, transform communities and these are investments. I never said I am giving a gift to Upstate New York. The billion dollars was not a gift to Western New York. It was an investment and Upstate, Downstate, we're one state. We're one balance sheet. We're one book. We're one family. If Upstate New York is suffering, Downstate New York suffers. Invest in Upstate New York, get those jobs being created and that is exactly what this $25 billion can do and if the legislature wants to say, "Well, are we sure we're going to get a return on our investment?" Look at Niagara. Look at Buffalo. Look at Western New York. Look at the number jobs created. Look at the unemployment going from 9.8 percent now down to 5.8 percent. Look at the job growth. Talk to our brothers and sisters in labor who are now working for the first time. Talk to the kids who are the corner who never saw a crane. Keep investing in Upstate New York. Let's pass that $25 billion. $22 billion dollars in infrastructure money – roads, bridges, parks, etc. Because, you think you've seen activity yet? You think Niagara's done great over the past couple of years? You ain't seen nothing yet. Let's build on what we're doing. Thank you and god bless you.”

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