Local leaders want to redevelop Niagara Falls waterfront

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The power brokers in charge of Niagara Falls want people to stay there longer — and they want them to be attracted to more than just one of the world’s largest waterfalls.

In the coming years, leaders want to transform 11 miles of waterfront on the upper and lower Niagara River into a massive outdoor playground.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of this request from the USA Niagara Development Corporation, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the New York Power Authority is that the hub of the plan, a grand lodge, will not be located on Goat Island, which was proposed for years — but drew wide opposition.

There are four parks along this stretch of land, and already, a number of outdoor activities there, but developers want to see more.

They want to see bicycle rentals; fishing, birding, and hiking guide services; fixed rappelling facilities; canopy and zip lines; improved hiking trails and camping areas.

They also want to emphasize the area as a playground year round, so any future developer must propose ideas for cross country skiing and other winter sports.

Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development, which is leading the request for proposals, said plans for Goat Island provided a focus that became more of a distraction.

“It was always the intent to focus on outdoor recreation,” Hoyt said. “I think that Goat Island became a distraction. The fact that it was possible for a lodge to be located on Goat Island drew all the attention, and yes, considerable opposition, and we listened. We don’t want a distraction. We want to focus on all of these different activities beyond the lodge.”

Proposals from prospective developers are due to USA Niagara Development Corporation by the deadline of Sept. 2.

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