Despite Niagara Falls State Park’s plan to spend nearly $30 million to rebuild its visitors center, activists want that structure removed from the parkscape altogether and relocated across the street or elsewhere. The placement of the structure makes it difficult for pedestrians entering the park from getting to Prospect Point without entering the building.
Urban designers have long wanted roadways, parking lots, and building structures removed from the park to make the visitor experience more authentic, more beautiful, more eco-centric, and less commercial. The removal of the visitor center, located less than 200 feet from the precipice of the Falls, has been a major objective of their activism.
Some activists insist that a state-of-the-art new welcome center could be constructed in the One Niagara Center, the former Occidental Chemical headquarters that now functions as a tourism welcome center, located immediately across the street from the park. That nine-story structure would be able to accommodate an observation deck with 360-degree views of the Niagara Gorge.
Others argue that the visitor center should be located at another regional state park that would compliment the evolution of the Niagara region as a destination. A visitor center at Old Fort Niagara could function as a history museum, they suggest. Similarly, a visitor center at the Whirlpool State Park could function as a geology or natural history museum.
“Visitor centers have never been a priority for the local business community,” explains one Niagara Falls entrepreneur. “We need high-quality cultural attractions and entertainment venues.”
“I’d rather see that $30 million invested in an expansion of the Niagara Aquarium or the Gorge Discovery Center,” he adds. “The areas of the State Park closest to the Falls should be as natural an experience as possible.”
Several petitions are being circulated to stop the reconstruction of the visitor center.