Niagara Power Project FERC No. 2216

 

VISUAL ASSESSMENT

 

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Prepared for: New York Power Authority 

Prepared by: The Saratoga Associates

 

August 2005

 

___________________________________________________

 

Copyright © 2005 New York Power Authority

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The purpose of this Visual Assessment is to “Describe the Aesthetic Effect of Project Facilities and Operations in the Context of the Niagara River and Gorge Viewshed and Associated Upland Areas.”  The Stakeholders have agreed to employ up to twenty (20) key vantage points that, when combined, describe the visual and aesthetic effects of project facilities and operations.  To comply with this key vantage point approach, viewsheds were constructed and key vantage point selection criteria were developed.    

Based upon the results of the viewshed analysis and the key vantage point assessment, visual and aesthetic impacts were determined.  The impacts fell along a spectrum ranging from aesthetically positive to neutral or visually insignificant and from neutral or visually insignificant to a few that were deemed negative.  It is anticipated that local residents would be accustomed to its long-time presence (the Niagara Power Project has operated in the Niagara Gorge and associated upland areas for nearly the last 50 years), while visitors to the region will view the project in context with its visual setting, particularly Niagara Falls and the variety of State Parks exploiting the aesthetic values of the Gorge environment.   The project-affected area is also subject to the strong contextual influences of local concentrated heavy industrial activities within the City of Niagara Falls.

Potential protection, mitigation, enhancement, and offset measures are recommended for consideration.  It is also recommended that the details of any mitigation programs be derived from direct Stakeholder involvement.  Enhancement strategies are designed to turn both negative and neutral elements into aesthetic assets, while offset opportunities are recommended where available.  Offsets are aesthetic improvements accomplished through mechanisms not directly related to project components.  Other mitigation could include, but is not limited to, painting components of the project to camouflage the elements into the background environment; planned planting and landscaping to obstruct, or partially obstruct, and soften views of the facilities; and designing lighting to be more carefully shielded from off-site views.

Using the vantage point approach revealed much about the visual conditions of the region. It is recommended that the Power Authority build on the strong positive aspects of its important visual place in the Niagara Region.

 

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this study is to “Describe the Aesthetic Effect of Project Facilities and Operations in the Context of the Niagara River and Gorge Viewshed and Associated Upland Areas.”

To accomplish this task requires an analysis of major project components and the landscape within which they reside, known as the study area.  The study area is determined by viewsheds.  The combination of all seen elements in view is known as “context.”

NYPA decided, in consultation with the ALP Stakeholders, to select and fully analyze up to twenty (20) key vantage points.  Accordingly, the area in view from each key vantage point determines the study area, and also reveals the visual context.  The aggregate of all key vantage point study areas is the total project study area.

 

1.0     DEFINITION OF STUDY AREA

Three study areas have been identified—Levels 1, 2 and 3.  Level 1 is the smallest.  A logical progression leads from this single, geographically limited study area to increasingly broader study areas represented by Levels 2 and 3.  Level 3, the broadest, captures the full array of visual conditions embedded in the key vantage point approach.  A discussion of each follows. 

Level 1 is a cone-shaped area, extending out to a maximum distance of five miles, that an observer sees while standing at a key vantage point looking towards a point of interest.  (Five miles is the maximum recommended analytic distance by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in its Program Policy “Assessing and Mitigating Visual Impacts.” [DEP-00-2 2000])   For the purposes of this study, generally, although not always, the point of interest is one of nine major project components.  The main Project related components that were assessed as part of this study are the Upper River Twin Intake Structures, Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, Lewiston Reservoir, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, Lewiston Substation and Switchyard, Electric Transmission Line Circuits, Communication Tower, Forebay, and Deployed Ice Boom.  It is important to note that not all of these Project components are owned by NYPA or within the Project boundary.  For example, the majority of the electric transmission lines connected to the Project switchyard are neither owned nor maintained by NYPA but are dominant visual features that warrant consideration in conjunction with those electric transmission lines owned and maintained by NYPA.  In addition, the ice boom is stored and deployed near the south end of the Niagara River on the American shore of Lake Erie, well outside of the Project boundary.  The use of the ice boom is governed by the International Joint Commission and not entirely for the benefit of the Project.  The aesthetic impact of the deployed ice boom from Front Park in the City of Buffalo was identified as an issue by ALP Stakeholders and is being considered within this report solely for this reason.

Each key vantage point may be chosen from among several candidates, depending upon circumstances.  Using regional scale criteria, aesthetic resources of statewide significance were assigned top priority followed by places meeting secondary criteria for selection.  Then site-specific criteria were applied to select the key spot to conduct the vantage point analysis.

Each vantage point has a 360° view surrounding the spot selected as key.  To complete each key vantage point visual assessment a series of photographs have been provided showing the full panorama.  The panorama reveals the full context or visual setting of the vantage point.

The panorama for a single key vantage point is the second study level and is exemplified by Figures 4.1 through 4.18.  Those figures are maps that show the areas one can see from the key vantage point.   Photographs that show the views of the Level 2 study area are also provided. 

The third geographic level is the aggregate of all Level 2 maps combined.  It defines and graphically portrays the full project study area. This broad study area is, in itself, a segment of an even larger regional context that can be described.   The landscape is described in Section 2, and natural and man-made components are identified for the reader’s convenience.

1.1         Key Vantage Point Selection Criteria (Regional Scale)

There are three regional scale key vantage point selection criterions.  In order of importance, they are:

1.       Up to twenty (20) key vantage points will be selected from within the most significant publicly designated aesthetic resources, having a potential view of at least one major NPP facility component.   The generic list of all significant aesthetic resources, designated under applicable State and Federal statutes, is contained in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Department Program Policy “Assessing and Mitigating Visual Impacts” (DEP-00-2 2000).  Preference will be given to all State and National aesthetic resources with significant views of key NPP project components.

2.       Secondary preference will be given to Stakeholder property owners who have expressed a concern. Two major landowners have been identified—Niagara University and The Tuscarora Nation.

3.       All major NPP facility components will have at least one key vantage point.

4.       A local aesthetic resource has been identified as key by virtue of its size and proximity to NPP—Hyde Park, owned by the City of Niagara Falls.

The generic aesthetic resource inventory is a list of all aesthetically significant resources and places within the project-affected area.  According to DEP-00-2, the generic list is:

·         A property on or eligible for inclusion in the National or State Register of Historic Places [16 U.S.C. § 470a et seq., Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Law Section 14.07];

 

·         State Parks [Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Law Section 3.09];

 

·         Urban Cultural Parks [Parks, Recreation, and Historic preservation Law Section 35.15];

 

·         The State Forest Preserve [NYS Constitution Article XIV] and Adirondack and Catskill parks;

 

·         National Wildlife Refuges [16 U.S.C. 668dd], State Game Refuges, and State Wildlife Management Areas [ECL 11-2105];

 

·         National Natural landmarks [36 CFR Part 62];

 

·         The National Park System, Recreation Areas, Seashores, and Forests [16 U.S.C. 1c];

 

·         Rivers designated as National or State Wild, Scenic, or Recreational [16 U.S.C. Chapter 28, ECL 15-2701 et seq.];

 

·         A site, area, lake, reservoir, or highway designated or eligible for designation as scenic [ECL Article 49 or DOT equivalent and APA designated State Highway Roadside];

 

·         Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance [Article 42 of Executive Law];

 

·         A State or federally designated trail, or one proposed for designation [16 U.S.C. Chapter 27 or equivalent];

 

·         Adirondack Park Scenic Vistas [Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Map];

 

·         State Nature and Historic Preserve Areas [Section 4 of Article XIV of the State Constitution];

 

·         Palisades Park [Palisades Interstate Park Commission]; and

 

·         Bond Act Properties purchased under Exceptional Scenic Beauty or Open Space category.

A few historic structures were identified in the general project area but public views of major NPP facilities were not found.

1.2         Key Vantage Point Selection Criteria (Site Scale)

Each key vantage “point” is a precise spot within an aesthetic resource or other area meeting the regional scale criteria for selection.  Each resource may have several candidate key vantage points from which to choose.  In order of importance, the site-scale selection is as follows:

1.       The precise key vantage point selected within the designated aesthetic resource will be a formal public “overlook” when and where available.  A formal overlook is an area specifically designed to accommodate visitors engaged in “passive” recreational activities that afford unimpeded opportunities to view an NPP component.

2.       For vantage point resources without formal overlooks, the key vantage point will be a high point of ground open to the public with an unimpeded view of an NPP component.  Spots of highest exposure will be sought (i.e., a spot where the greatest number of viewers congregate or are hypothesized as likely to congregate).  The exception to this criterion will be in circumstances where the high point is within an area of no trespass (e.g., a dangerous place that might jeopardize public safety).  Thus, at times, places of lower elevation may afford more appropriate significant views of NPP facilities.

3.       Vantage points may also be selected based upon proximity to major NPP components and/or aesthetic resources.  In every case, the logic and reason for the selection will be described.

 

2.0     REGIONAL CONTEXT

In some measure, because of the duality of the natural beauty and power-generating potential of Niagara Falls, the region has developed in two ways—one, as a place of scenic and passive recreational pursuits, and two, as a platform upon which heavy industry has proliferated.

2.1         The Natural Landscape

The Niagara Power Project is situated on the Ontario Lake Plain, a relatively flat expanse of land that stretches from the Niagara River eastward around the rim of Lake Ontario and southerly, blending with the Erie Lake Plain.  The Niagara River that flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario has a commanding natural presence.  Aside from the Great Lakes, the Niagara River Gorge is the most distinctive natural feature in Western New York.  Its sharp drop (almost 200 feet) creates Niagara Falls.

The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, over the Falls, which is approximately five miles upstream of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.  The River forms a boundary between New York State and the Province of Ontario, Canada.  The river, which is only 37 miles long, drains four of the five Great Lakes, a drainage basin of 263,700 square miles.  A few small tributaries occur within the Project area: Fish Creek, Gill Creek, and Bloody Run Creek.

Niagara Falls is, perhaps, the most significant natural scenic resource in New York State.  Rivaled only by the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty as nationally recognized aesthetic resources, Niagara Falls attracts many visitors from abroad.  One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls has afforded an entire region of New York with a unique sense of place. 

The River’s natural character ranges from flat, calming waters with a gentle and shallow embankment in the upper reach to the dynamic, exciting cataracts and precipitous cliffs of the lower reach with its swirling, swift white waters.  In the upper reaches, the River can be up to 6,000 feet wide; in the Gorge it is, at times, less than 500 feet across.

Beginning in the south and progressing north, important natural features include Cayuga Island, Navy Island, the Chippewa-Grass Island Pool, Goat Island, the Horseshoe Falls, the Maid-of-the-Mist Pool, the American Falls, Whirlpool Rapids, and Devil’s Hole Rapids.  That each is named is a measure of their distinctiveness and place in western New York’s history and culture.

At the Falls, Goat Island separates the river flow into two distinct cataracts—the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. The Horseshoe Falls’ linear crest measures about 2,200 feet, while the American side is about 1,100 feet.  Visual and aesthetic characteristics include mists and fogs; rainbows and other ephemeral atmospheric effects; the powerful sound of the moving water; and the striking linear rhythmic pattern of streaming water cascading over the crest down through the mists below.  The mist is observable from relatively distant areas upriver but without the explanatory context that would be provided by the Falls and mist source below.

Associated upland areas are mostly developed and the remaining natural landscape is a patchwork of undeveloped wetlands.  Several large, natural wetland complexes and their associated tributaries are located east of the Lewiston Reservoir on Tuscarora Lands.  These natural ecosystems include forested, shrub, and emergent marsh wetlands, open water areas, and stream corridors. Other important natural vegetation remains in steep areas within the Gorge.

Second growth woodlots and hedgerows constitute other important naturalized vegetation patterns.  Parks and preserves have retained some native vegetation and added ornamental species in naturalized aggregations.

2.1         The Developed Landscape

The developed lands north of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the Lewiston Plant, and the Lewiston Reservoir are suburban in character.  This includes a variety of housing and residential subdivisions and a sophisticated network of roads and highways.  The area south of these primary power-generating facilities includes a number of industrial sites, the switchyard and transmission lines, undeveloped open lands used for recreation, and Niagara University’s Main Campus.  The Tuscarora Lands comprise the eastern portion of the study area and are largely rural and agricultural.

The larger regional landscape consists of a variety of land uses, some of which appear rather natural and are generally referred to as “open spaces,” such as agricultural fields, a variety of parks, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and the like, and certain low-density residential developments.  Hyde Park, while one of the largest, typifies the visual condition observed at local parks.  It is both an active and passive recreation area consisting of golf, picnic pavilions, tennis courts, and other recreational infrastructure.  It is well-maintained and is a positive green and open space both within and used by the surrounding community.

Reservoir State Park is located along the Town of Lewiston/Town of Niagara line just south of the Lewiston Reservoir.  A trail circles the reservoir along the rim and offers bank fishing opportunities.  The park also includes a sledding hill that coincidently provides views south of the switchyard.  The area surrounding the site is highly developed.

The Earl W. Brydges Artpark is located in the Town of Lewiston. The Artpark has a large performing arts theatre providing summer arts programs for school children.  Additional recreational facilities are scattered throughout the project area.  Particularly prominent among these are Hyde Park, an expansive 447-acre park within the City of Niagara Falls, and Lewiston Landing, along the Niagara River in the Village of Lewiston.

Devil’s Hole State Park and Whirlpool State Park, each located west of the Robert Moses State Parkway, provide important views of the Niagara River.  These parks take full advantage of the dramatic views available of the Niagara River and Gorge Area.

Another important feature of the Niagara River is the substantial presence of infrastructure that supports power development.  Manifested by the NPP Twin Intakes, the Beck Intakes, the International Niagara Control Structure, the Canadian Power Rankin Plant, the Canadian Power Intakes, the Ontario Power Generating Station, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, and the Sir Adam Beck-Niagara Generation Station, these elements are visually significant within the Niagara River Corridor.

The American Rapids Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge are commanding visual presences and, by virtue of their size, elevated position over the River, and distinctive architectural styles, they are some of the most visually important man-made elements and character determinants in the Project area.

The connection between the Falls, electricity generation and transmission, and industrial development is also readily apparent to even the casual observer.  Obvious and important visual presences are the generating facilities (“dams”) and a number of high voltage transmission lines.  These structures are visually significant, as are industrial developments with equally strong character determinants in the project-affected area.

Large chemical and industrial processing complexes are visually proximate to the NPP, particularly the water conduit right-of-way and the Twin Water Intake Structures at the southern edge of the City of Niagara Falls.  A variety of systems—some resembling petro-chemical type units, specialty chemical systems with heating systems, venting stacks, and plumes—seem to run into one another, forming a vast chain.  Almost every manner of pipe and chemical transport system form a matrix of visually complex structures, ancillary facilities, and other support structures owned and operated by entities such as Occidental Chemical, Praxair, Durez, and LaFarge.  They are all served by, and connected to, a complex arrangement of electric transmission facilities.  A large Niagara Mohawk switchyard (Packard) station completes one of the most heavily industrialized areas in western New York.

Attendant rail systems, trains, and commercial industrial service needs are also part of this intensely industrialized landscape.  A CSX Rail Corporation line extends from Buffalo to Niagara Falls.  An additional line extends northward to the general vicinity of the Lewiston and Robert Moses Niagara Power Plants.

 Vehicular traffic, including cars and trucks, are also a key visual presence, although they are so pervasive everywhere that many observers take them for granted.  As one would expect, expanses of concrete and asphalt support the vehicular-based lifestyle.

The transportation network within the Project area includes a combination of highways, regional connectors, and local roads.  A branch of the New York State Thruway, I-190 (Niagara Expressway), passes through the Project site just west of the Lewiston Plant.  Access from the Niagara Expressway, connecting with the Project occurs at two interchange points: Witmer Road (Route 31) and Military Road/Upper Mountain Road (Route 265/County Route 11).  The Robert Moses State Parkway also passes through the Project site and effectively connects the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant with the twin river intake structures located along the Niagara River.  Most of the parkway roads and bridges constructed by the Power Authority are owned, operated, or maintained by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the New York State Department of Transportation.  Lewiston Road generally parallels the Robert Moses State Parkway and provides an important connection between Niagara University’s Main Campus (just south of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant) and Niagara University-Deveaux Campus.

The developed areas are contained within eight (8) municipalities, as well as Tuscarora Lands.   A discussion of each follows.

2.1.1        Town of Lewiston

The Town of Lewiston, located in Niagara County, is characterized by low-density residential development and some agricultural activity, except in the southwest corner where the Robert Moses and Lewiston Plants are located.  The southwest corner also includes Niagara University.  The Town encompasses the Village of Lewiston, which is located on the western edge of the Town.  The Town is currently in the process of revising its 1981 Master Plan.  While the 1981 Master Plan generally found the Town to by comprised of “attractive homes and mature vegetation,” it also found the vicinity of the area around the Niagara Power Project to be showing “evidence of impending deterioration.”  The variety of surrounding land uses, including heavy industry and expressways, were cited by the Master Plan as contributing to an “unattractive physical/visual environment.”

The Town includes ten (10) parks and recreation facilities. Among these facilities are Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park and the Joseph Davis State Park.  Portions of Devil’s Hole State Park and Reservoir State Park are also located within the southern segment of the Town.

The Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park is dedicated to presenting performing and visual arts programs, including Broadway musicals and classical, jazz, and pop music concerts; art exhibits; classes, workshops, and demonstrations; and tours of the park’s geological and historic sites and nature trails. Lower Landing Archeological District is a key point in the Colonial Niagara Historic District.  The park has picnic facilities, hiking, and cross-country skiing, as well as access to fishing.

2.1.2        Village of Lewiston

The Village of Lewiston is a highly developed village distinguished by its residential characteristics, historic architecture, and Main Street shopping district.  The western edge of the Village is located on the shores of the Niagara River.  The Village has a Master Plan (1977) and a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (1989), both of which are currently being revised.  The Village includes a designated historic district known as the Plain Street Historic District.  Small, locally owned retail establishments and restaurants distinguish the commercial core.  The Village’s commercial district experienced significant improvements in the mid-1990s with an ISTEA grant that allowed for new pedestrian-oriented historic lighting, brick pavers, and enhanced street tree plantings.  A portion of the Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park is located within the Village boundaries.  Lewiston Landing is located on the Niagara River and includes a boardwalk, ferry service to Toronto, observation points, restaurant, transient boat slips, fish cleaning station, and Whirlpool Jetboat.  The Village includes various other smaller parks, such as Seneca Park with its flowering trees, benches, and artistic sculptures; the Marilyn Toohey Park; Hennepin Park; Colonial Village Park, which is a 5.23 acre park with bird watching opportunities, tennis and basketball courts, baseball diamonds, playground, public restrooms, and rentable pavilions; and the 3-acre Academy Park.

2.1.3        Town of Niagara

The Town of Niagara, to the east of Niagara Falls, is an older suburban and industrial community.  Substantial portions of the community are used for industrial-related activities, including the Niagara Falls Air Base (home to the 914th Airlift Wing of the USAF, the 107th Air Refueling Wing of the New York Air National Guard, and the 865th Combat Support Hospital of the U.S. Army), the Niagara Falls International Airport, and major highway and power transmission corridors.  The north segment of the Town is closest to the Niagara Power Project and is largely defined by a combination of heavy industrial uses, including major utility transmission, as well as road and rail corridors.  The southern portion of the Town, further removed from New York Power Authority lands, is generally considered a first ring suburb and is characterized by an aging population, an aging housing stock, and an aging infrastructure.  Located at the north edge, a small portion of Reservoir State Park is positioned in the Town of Niagara.  The Town also includes six other parks:  Belden Center Park, Garcia Park, John Street Park, Niagara Town Park, Veteran Heights Park, and Young Street Park.

2.1.4        City of Niagara Falls

The City of Niagara Falls is an extensively developed urban community that has a broad range of residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional uses.  The areas within the City of Niagara Falls closest to the New York Power Authority lands are well-established and pleasant residential neighborhoods along Lewiston Road.  The Robert Moses State Parkway also passes through the City of Niagara Falls on the west.  The City is an important tourist destination on the American side of the Falls.  Niagara Falls has a number of planning documents that guide the development of its waterfront: Niagara Riverview Park and Trail (1988); a Developer Master Plan for Downtown Niagara Falls (1998); Master Plan Study of the Niagara Gorge Hiking Trail (1989); and Niagara Waterfront Master Plan (1992).  Although several attempts were made to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, the process was never completed and adopted as official policy.  The most relevant document for waterfront planning is the document Achieving Niagara Falls’ Future (2002).  The City is currently in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan.

The City has 39 parks and recreation facilities, including the Aquarium of Niagara, DeVeaux Woods State Park, Devil’s Hole State Park, and Reservoir State Park.  Whirlpool State Park is a 109-acre state-owned park that has two observation levels for viewing the mile-long stretch of rapids. The street level has many overlooks with breathtaking views of the whirlpool and the Niagara River, shaded picnic tables, and a playground. The river level, accessible by walking the 300 feet of trails and steps that descend into the gorge, offers several nature trails along the Niagara Gorge leading to Devil’s Hole State Park.  The Niagara Gorge Trail System is located within the park. The trail parallels the scenic Niagara River Gorge, which extends from Lewiston to Niagara Falls. Many sections of the Trail System are remnants of the Great Gorge Route, an electric trolley line that ran in the gorge between 1895 and 1935.  The rim path within Niagara Falls State Park extends from the Horseshoe Falls to the Schoellkopf Geological Museum.  There, the trail connects to the Upper Great Gorge Trail that leads to the Whirlpool Rapids, near Whirlpool State Park. Some parts of the trail are at the bottom of the gorge, close to the water’s edge and within close view of the different layers of sedimentary rock that make up the gorge walls. The system has about 14.5 miles of trails.

Niagara Falls State Park, located on the southwest corner of the City, features one of the natural wonders of the world and is America's oldest state park. The rapids along Goat Island are a spectacle of water and rocks.  The park is well-landscaped with seasonal flowers.  The power of the Falls can be seen at Prospect Point, or for an aerial view, atop the observation tower.

The Niagara Falls Riverwalk is a City-owned 5.5-mile asphalt rail trail running between Niagara Falls and the Town of Porter.  Niagara Riverview Trail is a state-owned, three-mile paved trail from the North Grand Island Bridge to Niagara Reservation State Park.

2.1.5        City of Buffalo

The City of Buffalo is the urban center of the Buffalo Niagara region and, like other cities experiencing economic decline, has been hit hard in recent years with the decline of the manufacturing industry.  Heavy industrial buildings, many of which are vacant or significantly underutilized, characterize much of the landscape on the edges.  For the past half century, Buffalo has been steadily losing its predominant position in the region as urbanization spread outwards from the urban core.  In June of 2003, the City released a draft Comprehensive Plan that establishes an ambitious vision of the City to regain its status as the “Queen City of the Great Lakes” and envisions Buffalo as a “sustainable Great Lakes community.”  The City is also currently engaged in developing a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the Waterfront Corridor Initiative, which will develop an action program of project plans and designs.   

The City has a rich architectural history.  It took decades to implement the various plans that shaped the City, and the architecture, parks, parkways, enterprises, and institutions that came to symbolize Buffalo.  Piece by piece, layer by layer, the urban fabric was enriched, as well-known architects and urban planners such as Upjohn, Sullivan, Burnham, Richardson, Wright, Saarinen, Rudolph, Pei, Yamasaki, and many others made their contributions. 

Downtown Buffalo is an important part of the region’s future success.  Downtown is currently being redeveloped under the vision expressed in The Queen City Hub: A Regional Action Plan for Downtown Buffalo.  It is a plan that recognizes the need to integrate all components of economic, social, and environmental planning.  The plan also includes strategies to help revitalize the adjoining neighborhoods. 

The City has an extensive array of parks and recreation, exemplified by the numerous Olmsted Parks throughout the City.  Buffalo is the home to America's oldest coordinated system of public parks and parkways, designed by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), in concert with his partner Calvert Vaux and other subsequent partners.  An important component of the draft Comprehensive Plan is the restoration of the Olmsted parks and parkway system, along with the waterfront. 

Buffalo possesses an extensive and diverse waterfront along Lake Erie, the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers, and the Erie Canal.  The waterfront has many uses and features, including re-naturalized areas such as the Tifft Nature Reserve, remnants of former industrial activity such as the grain silos, and facilities with particular associations such the Inner Harbor with its redevelopment plan, and Broderick Park with its connection to the history of the Underground Railway.

2.1.6        Lands of the Tuscarora Nation

Tuscarora lands are contiguous to the New York Power Authority’s Lewiston Reservoir.  Land use can generally be characterized as low-density residential and agricultural.

2.1.7        Town of Porter

The Town of Porter, located north of the Town of Lewiston in Niagara County, is characterized by low-density residential development and some agricultural activity.  The Town is currently developing a Comprehensive Plan that is currently in committee in draft form.  It is anticipated that the Comprehensive Plan will be adopted by January 2005.

2.1.8        Town of Wheatfield

The Town of Wheatfield is located in Niagara County and is largely characterized by residential development.  The Town includes 12 parks, including the Oppenheim County Park and Zoo.  The Town has a Comprehensive Plan that was adopted by the municipal legislative body in 1999.

2.1.9        Town of Grand Island

The Town of Grand Island is located in Erie County and is characterized by a wide variety of development.  The Town has a Comprehensive Plan that was adopted by the municipal legislative body in 1992.  The Town includes 41 publicly and privately owned parks, prominently including Buckhorn Island State Park along the Niagara River opposite Navy Island.  Consisting of 895 acres of marsh, meadows, and woods and the last vestige of once vast marshlands and meadows that bordered the Niagara River, it is classified as a park preserve. The public is welcome to walk the nature trail, hike, fish, and cross-country ski in the park.  Current restoration planning initiatives include increasing public access with more non-intrusive trails, overlooks, a bike path, and parking facilities. 

Beaver Island State Park is another park, located at the south end also along the Niagara River. The 950-acre park has a half-mile sandy beach for swimming, an adjacent 80-slip marina with both seasonal and transient boat slips, fishing access, bike and nature trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, athletic fields, an 18-hole golf course, and a historic home which was the summer residence of President Cleveland. In winter, visitors can cross-country ski, snowshoe, sled, or ice fish. 

 

1.0     KEY PROJECT COMPONENTS

The Niagara Power Project consists of facilities and structures necessary to generate and transmit electricity.  To understand the aesthetic effect of the Niagara Power Project requires a determination of key project components and their viewsheds.  In the visual impact assessment discipline it is standard industry practice to analyze the tallest facility components.  This is because the tallest components have the greatest viewshed, or expanse of land, with views of the subject facility.  Also, the tallest components usually have the most pronounced skyline effect and, therefore, greatest visual impact.  Based upon size, location, and visual and aesthetic characteristics, the major project components may be identified as:  the Twin Intake Structures, Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, Lewiston Reservoir, Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, Lewiston Substation and Switchyard, Electric Transmission Lines, the Communication Tower, the Forebay, and the Deployed Ice Boom within the City of Buffalo.  As previously mentioned, not all of these project components are within the Project boundary or necessarily related to Project operations.

Less important ancillary structures and facilities, vehicular parking with associated lawn areas and ornamental landscapes, storage areas, access roads, and other relatively nondescript properties and lands complete the visual inventory of the Niagara Power Project.  Some among them are important and have been analyzed in the context of the key vantage point analysis.

1.1         Twin Intake Structures

Two identical riverside water intake structures, located along the Niagara River 2.6 miles upstream of Niagara Falls, divert water from the Niagara River to the Lewiston Reservoir.  The intakes are proximate to both the Robert Moses Parkway and the Niagara River.  An associated overlook park and walkway offers excellent views of the upper Niagara River.

1.2         Lewiston Pump Generating Plant

The Lewiston Pump Generating Plant consists of 12 units that have a dual function of pumping water from the forebay into Lewiston Reservoir and generating electric power from release of the stored water.  The tallest facility component is the red gantry crane above the dam.  

1.3         Lewiston Reservoir

The Lewiston Reservoir stores water for the Lewiston Plant.  The shoreline around the reservoir is approximately 6.5 miles long and is characterized by the water itself and the steep slope of the reservoir dike.  The high point is the top of the slope around the rim of the Reservoir.  The Reservoir is both a facility component and a key vantage point, since it is the high point of ground within Reservoir State Park.

1.4         Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant is a prominent man-made feature within the Niagara River Gorge. The Plant consists of 13 power-generating units that discharge water from the upper Niagara River to the lower reach below the Falls.  The four-lane Robert Moses Parkway and four-lane Lewiston Road traverse the top of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

The Plant is a large, rectangular-shaped facility that appears to be part of the face of the Gorge wall.  The tallest plant component is the uppermost gantry crane above the dam. The bench-like forms are painted red.   The Plant also includes 13 turbines within the structure that are used to generate electric power.  Fishing access is also provided, as an access road, parking areas, and a pier.

1.5         Lewiston Substation and Switchyard

The Lewiston Substation and Switchyard consists of a visually complex arrangement of utility equipment involved with the energy supply purposes of the Niagara Power Project.  The tallest facility component is the strain bus structure (type “AB”) that stands about 97 feet tall.  It is located north of the Niagara University Campus just to the west of Interstate I-90.

1.6         Electric Transmission Facilities

The electric transmission facilities consist of a number of towers and attendant cables.  The tallest towers are the 345kV lattice structures.  They ranged in height from 96 to 184 feet.  They originate at the switchyard and travel south and east.  A 115kV facility goes east toward Tuscarora Lands.  Transmission lines and switchyards within the FERC Project Boundary are owned or managed by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Niagara Mohawk (NIMO) and the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG).  Approximate right-of-way miles owned or managed by each of these organizations within the Project boundary are 1.2 miles for NYPA, 4.1 miles for NIMO, and less than 0.1 miles for NYSEG.

1.7         Communication Tower

The communication tower is a lattice structure used to elevate project communication equipment.  It is approximately 200 feet tall and composed of alternating bands of red and white metallic lattice-work and attached transmission hardware.  It is located just to the north of the Niagara University Physical Plant.

1.8         The Forebay

The approximately 71-acre forebay is a relatively narrow cut through a limestone bed where discharged water is directed from the Lewiston facility to the top of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.  It is located to the north of the Power Vista parking area.  It is approximately 500 feet wide, 4,200 feet long, and 110 feet deep.

1.9         Deployed Ice Boom

The eastern basin of Lake Erie narrows where the lake drains into the Niagara River.  During the years when an ice cover forms on Lake Erie, the funnel-like opening near the head of the river causes the constriction of northeastward ice flow, a subsequent thickening of the ice cover, and the eventual formation of a natural ice arch at a point located just upstream of the river's head.  The river itself remains open.  The ice formation process tends to restrict ice flow into the river, although breakaway floes are normal.  The presence of the ice boom accelerates formation of the ice cover and reduces the risk of arch breakdown during the development of the natural arch.  It also supports stability of the ice arch during adverse wind and other weather conditions that tend to destabilize the ice cover.  The ice boom limits the duration and extent of ice runs that have the potential to cause ice stoppages and ice jams in the Niagara River.  The boom is instrumental in promoting the reformation of a stable ice cover after exposure to severe weather or sustained winds that result in overtopping.  The stable ice cover promoted by the boom also insulates the underlying water from heat transfer and restricts the formation of new ice.  The deployment of the ice boom is governed by the International Joint Commission for benefit of the general public, not exclusively as part of the Project.

The ice boom is located in Lake Erie, across the head of the Niagara River, and is operated in place solely during the winter and early spring.  The boom is deployed approximately two miles upstream of the Peace Bridge and is positioned approximately 1,000 ft southwest of the potable water intake crib for the City of Buffalo.  At this location, the currents are mild, typically about 1ft/sec in calm conditions.  The deepest water is located near the Canadian shore.  Over half of the ice boom, toward the US shore, is positioned over a shoal in shallow water with a depth of 16 ft or less.

 

Figure 3.1-1

Twin Intake Structures Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-2

Lewiston Pump Generating Plant Gantry Crane Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-3

Lewiston Reservoir Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-4

Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Gantry Crane Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-5

Switchyard 345kV Yard Towers Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-6

Electric Transmission Tower Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-7

Communication Tower Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 3.1-10

Key Project Components Composite Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

2.0     KEY VANTAGE POINTS

2.1         Front Park

Front Park has been identified by the City of Buffalo as a place where deployment of the ice boom in Lake Erie has an adverse aesthetic effect.  It is a 25.56-acre City-owned park designed by the renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.  Located north of the downtown area of Buffalo, it is very proximate to the Peace Bridge and U.S Customs Plaza.  Part of the Olmsted Park System and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Front Park is an aesthetic resource of significance.

The Park landscape has been altered over the years due to the highway and bridge encroachments.  It is characterized by an expanse of open grassy areas enclosed with mature trees mainly in the southern area of the Park.  A commemorative statue, tennis courts, soccer goal posts, and pedestrian pathways are features of the Park.

The Niagara Section of the New York State Thruway (I-190) and several other feeder lanes of traffic separate the Park from Lake Erie. Also separating the Park from the Lake is the Colonel Ward Pumping Station, a major visual presence to the west.  It is about 500 feet long and 300 feet wide and includes a utility stack.  Just to the north of the water treatment plant and between the Park and Lake Erie are the USMC Reserve Readiness Center and the Buffalo Yacht Club.  To the east of the Park, residences line Busti Avenue.  Tollbooths and the entrance to the Peace Bridge are located to the north.  The rest of Front Park, including substantial amounts of mature ornamental trees, occupies views to the south.

2.1.1        Vantage Point Location

The ice boom is visible from areas along the western edge of the Park. There is no formal overlook at this location.  As one moves towards the east and the south, the ice boom disappears behind intervening screens. The western edge of the Park runs parallel to Busti Avenue and is the highpoint with the most unimpeded views of the deployed boom.  The specific key vantage point was selected along the western rim near the tennis court area (northern end) of the Park.  This spot is slightly higher in elevation than the southern end.  It is also speculated that this area may have the highest winter exposure due to nearby Vermont Street.  A set of footprints in the snow was observed here and no other footprints were observed anywhere along the western rim.  (No pedestrians were observed anywhere within the Park during the two site visits conducted on February 5 and 18, 2004.)  While one set of footprints is scant evidence of anything more than minor exposure, it is speculated that pedestrians from Vermont Street traveling eastward may use this stretch because it is the most direct east-west route through the Park.  It is the key vantage point.

2.1.2        Visual Analysis

The deployed boom consists of a series of 30-foot long by 30-inch diameter rust brown, cigar-shaped pontoons cabled together to accelerate the formation of the natural ice arch that normally forms near the head of the Niagara River every winter and to stabilize the arch once it has formed.  The boom reduces the severity and duration of ice runs into the Niagara River from Lake Erie.  The pontoons are set in place at a distance of between 7,700 to 9,300 feet from the key vantage point and form a series of chains totaling about 8,800 feet long.  At this distance, the linked tubes are not big enough to be a point of interest to most observers walking through or standing in Front Park.  Some tubes are more visible then others probably due to the random build up of ice or snow or perhaps by partial submergence of the occasional tube.

During the winter, when the boom is in place, the landscape is mostly grayish-white due to the ever-present snow and ice.  Snow and ice form on Lake Erie and throughout portions of the Lake, especially near the Black Rock Canal area.  Ice is an anticipated and accepted presence during the winter in upstate New York.

The buildup of ice is visible behind the boom, but ice also exists in front of the boom and in other locations on and off the Lake and virtually everywhere in Buffalo including Front Park; ice is so pervasive that it is not a logical point of interest for most observers.  The plowed snow line piled along the western rim of the Park is a visual and fairly effective physical barrier to entering the Park from Busti Avenue.

During deployment there is another effect from ice and/or snow build-up.  Its grayish-white color affords a background of sufficient contrast with the boom’s dark rust brown color that the boom becomes visible, though barely so because the optical effect of size perspective renders it so diminished in size that its visual presence, even with the contrasting colors, is inconsequential.

2.1.3        Aesthetic Analysis

Although the visual impact of the deployed boom is inconsequential, it is possible that some viewers may be alert to its presence or to the presence of the ice field. 

2.1.4        Mitigation

While mitigation is unnecessary, painting the boom to match its color with the color of ice will make the boom indistinguishable from its background even to highly perceptive viewers.

2.2         Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitor Center and Overlook)

The Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitor Center and Overlook) is located in the Town of Lewiston and is adjacent to Niagara University.  The facility includes a reception building, pedestrian overpass above Lewiston Road and Robert Moses Parkway, and an overlook located atop the south abutment of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, 300 feet above the Niagara River.  The facility was constructed as part of the Niagara Project in the early 1960s.  Admission is free and it is often the site of festivals, educational programs, science fairs, and special events.  Exhibits include a model of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and a terrain map of the Niagara area.  A Thomas Hart Benton mural commissioned for the Niagara Project is also on display.

2.2.1        Vantage Point Location (A)

The visitor center is strategically located above the gorge to provide visitors with an opportunity to see the Niagara River Gorge and the structures of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

Because it offers the best overlook of the Niagara Power Project and Gorge Area, two key vantage points have been identified—the northwest corner of the observation deck affords visitors an unobstructed and dramatic view of the Niagara River and Gorge Area towards the north, while the southwest corner allows for unparalleled views toward the south.  The steep vertical drop and compelling depth of each view is awe-inspiring.  They are both key vantage points. 

2.2.2        Visual Analysis (A)

The viewer is offered an unparalleled opportunity to simultaneously view both the natural River Gorge and the Niagara Power Plant and its Sir Adam Beck Canadian counterpart, as well as the features of the Power Vista Visitor Center. This key vantage point offers views of major project facilities and operations in the context of the Niagara River and Gorge viewshed and associated upland areas.

The red Gantry Cranes are prominent by virtue of their size, bright red color, and uncommon bench-like form.  Their unusual and distinctive design commands viewer attention, perhaps at a level commensurate with the Generating Plant itself.  The shelf of the Canadian side of the gorge is roughly on the same plain as the observation deck so there is little opportunity to view the Canadian landscape.

Several storage trailers are visible at the base of the Niagara plant just to the north and west of the facility.

2.2.3        Aesthetic Analysis (A)

The depth and drama of the overlook offers a powerful and awe-inspiring aesthetic experience.  The vertical walls of the gorge and the rushing torrent below are the natural focal points, while the massive walls of the Generating Facilities are the man-made elements that capture the viewer’s attention.    The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant is an engineering wonder, with vertical columns of equal dimension running the face of its massive wall.   The equally spaced and equally dimensioned columns establish an unmistakable architectural rhythm.

The color of the half-century old concrete does not contrast with the exposed grey earthy tints and tones of limestone layers that define the gorge.  However, the red color of the gantry cranes do contrast with the setting.

Their red color, especially as presented by the massive topmost gantry crane, also captures viewers’ attention. Furthermore, the non-obvious nature of their function may increase an observer’s interest.  Anything but ordinary, the gantry cranes are both exotic and appealing, functioning as accents to the impressive architectural/engineering work of which they are a relatively small part.  Because there are three cranes—one large, one medium, and one small—there is a reinforcement of rhythm to the character of the Plant.    

While the viewer is both educated and inspired from this key vantage point there are some negatives.

The red paint of the uppermost and largest gantry crane has begun to fade in a patchy fashion.  While the lower crane is also in need of maintenance, that condition is not perceptible from this vantage point.  The middle crane is bright red and apparently has been painted recently.

The temporary construction and storage trailers below, just to the north of the dam, are not in harmony with the project architecture and site.  They are discordant because the feeling of permanency, stability, and grandeur emanating from the massive wall of the generating facility contrasts sharply with the weak and transitory image projected by the trailers. 

2.2.4        Mitigation (A)

The upper (and lower) gantry cranes are now due for maintenance.  A decision to repaint them red, their historic colors, instead of some other color should be considered. 

Consideration of the function of, and alternatives to, the storage trailers and attendant marshalling yard appearance is also recommended.

2.3         Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitor Center and Overlook)

See Section 4.2.

2.3.1        Vantage Point Location (B)

See Section 4.2.1.

2.3.2        Visual Analysis (B)

The southwest corner of the observation deck offers dramatic views of the Gorge Area that are sufficiently different from views from the northwest corner to justify a separate key vantage point designation.

The main features to be observed from this point are the Power Vista observation facility itself, the southern axis of the gorge, the Robert Moses Parkway and Lewiston Road, and the Niagara University Campus.  The close relationship and visual proximity of the Niagara Power Project with Niagara University is clearly revealed from this vantage point.

2.3.3        Aesthetic Analysis (B)

The part of Niagara University visible from the observation deck is the part that hearkens back to the early days of the institution, which was founded in 1856.  Buildings such as Clet Hall and St. Vincent’s Hall are outstanding examples of institutional design from the mid-nineteenth century.  The Campus has grown over the years and, today, students, faculty, staff, and visitors are treated to an attractive educational setting.  The architecture and landscaping have been treated very carefully.

The Power Vista Visitor Center and Overlook is also a fine example of quality architecture and landscape architecture.  Niagara University recognizes the Power Vista’s aesthetic appeal and highlights it on the University’s website as one of the well-known attractions of the Niagara Area.

NYPA has employed an excellent maintenance program that explicitly recognizes and values the importance and quality of the University’s landscape and its seamless border with the Niagara Power Project.

2.3.4        Mitigation

No mitigation is recommended in the vicinity of this vantage point. 

2.4         Niagara University

Niagara University is a Vincentian educational institution located in the Town of Lewiston on the northern boundary of the City of Niagara Falls.  Its mission statement reads: “Niagara University educates its students and enriches their lives through programs in the liberal arts and through career preparation, informed by the Catholic and Vincentian traditions” (www.niagara.edu).  The campus consists of over 25 major buildings that provide academic programs, departments, and support in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Nursing.

As indicated in Section 4.3.3, the original core of the campus is an excellent example of institutional design dating from the mid-nineteenth century that supplies a strong sense of place to those living and working on the Campus.  Many new buildings have been added to the original Campus.  Care has been employed in their design and placement.  One of the newest is the student-housing complex in the southeastern part of the Campus.

2.4.1        Vantage Point Location (A)

This student-housing complex consists of a group of apartments located directly across the University Road from an NPP warehouse.  The NPP warehouse is a service facility consisting of a building and an attached outside storage yard.  The yard is enclosed with an inner chain-link security fence and an outer “green screen” of arborvitae.  A few of the arborvitae are missing from the eastern and southern edges.  Their absence allows for visual “access” into the outside storage area.

The closest location on Niagara University property with views of the warehouse and the outside storage area is a spot directly across the street and immediately adjacent to the road.  It is the key vantage point.

2.4.2        Visual Analysis (A)

University Road separates the student-housing complex from the NPP Warehouse.  University Road is a major entranceway into Niagara University.  As such, exposure levels are relatively high.  There is a direct line of sight between the student housing complex and the NPP warehouse and outside storage area.   Because of missing arborvitae around the security fence, views into the storage area are available to students living at, and visitors traveling to, the Niagara Campus. 

Various piles of supplies and materials can be seen through the fence.  The missing shrubs also expose the chain link security fence to view.  All are in the immediate foreground distance and therefore the visual impact is heightened.

In addition, the barbed wire topping was broken in several places and hanging loose, the security fence was badly rusted, and the support posts were in disrepair.

2.4.3        Aesthetic Analysis (A)

Maintenance facilities, warehousing, and other NPP service facilities and areas have the most potential to be either out-of-character with their larger settings or to consist of elements most likely to be considered unpleasant to manicured neighbors. 

At this site, some of the stored materials appear to be rusted or give the appearance of being abandoned in place. While this may be an inaccurate characterization, the open view is clearly undesirable.  A distinct appearance of disorderliness is the aesthetic outcome.

2.4.4        Mitigation (A)

This vantage point was selected, not for its designated aesthetic value, but because it reveals visual and aesthetic impacts to Niagara University. 

It is recommended that landscape architectural treatments that fully re-establish the green screen be undertaken.  It is also recommended that the operational impacts associated with outside storage be examined and minimized, if practicable, to diminish the use of outside storage.  Care and caution on what is stored and how it is stored should be looked into.  In addition, further softening and landscape treatments and enhancements are recommended for study along this Niagara University entranceway, including both sides of University Road, to provide an enhanced sense of entrance to the Campus.  It is recommended that Niagara University be consulted to best determine the program elements and design treatments for this area.

2.5         Niagara University

A description of Niagara University is provided in Section 4.4.

2.5.1        Vantage Point Location (B)

This vantage point was selected for the same reason as Vantage Point (A), because it is a place that reveals visual and aesthetic impacts to Niagara University.

Location (B) is a spot within the centrally located athletic field that most reveals the juxtaposition of the Lewiston Switchyard and Substation with Niagara University.  It is the key vantage point.

2.5.2        Visual Analysis (B)

The athletic field is an open grassy area.  In-place nets/goal posts reveal the kind of sporting use for which the open space is used.  Lacrosse and field hockey are two of the recreational pursuits that this large space accommodates.  Though the visual presence of the switchyard and substation will not interfere with the pursuit of these active recreation activities, the electricity transfer complex is, nonetheless, a strong visual presence.

This key vantage point affords a wide-open view of the latticework of the electric transmission switchyard and substation.  The spot is most proximate to the switchyard and substation and reveals much of that portion of the utility complex.

2.5.3        Aesthetic Analysis (B)

  Such massing of lattice-like structures can be perceived as aesthetically undesirable to some viewers.  This negative perception may be due to a “run-of-shelf” appearance lacking in the customized designs of other NPP facilities.  The preponderance of lattice structures throughout the regional landscape may compound their aesthetic impacts to these observers.

2.5.4        Mitigation (B)

Substantial reinforcement of existing ornamental screening, coupled with entirely new screening, is recommended.  It is also recommended that all design treatments should be developed in close consultation and cooperation with Niagara University.

2.6         Niagara University

A description of Niagara University has been provided in Section 4.4.

2.6.1        Vantage Point Location (C)

As indicated previously, Niagara University is located adjacent to NPP.  It’s property lines abut at many locations, so selecting a single key vantage point is a most challenging assignment.  There are no formal overlooks, and concentrations of students occur at many locations, including dorms and classrooms.  Accordingly, three locations have been selected as key vantage points. 

The third spot is most proximate to the NPP communication tower that is the tallest above-grade NPP facility. The key vantage point is very close to the tower.  The tower is situated just north of another athletic facility on the northern edge of the Campus.  Also nearby is the Niagara University Physical Plant with an associated parking lot. The spot with the most unimpeded view of the tower is within the Niagara University parking lot.  It is the key vantage point.

2.6.2        Visual Analysis (C)

The communication tower is 200 feet tall.  By virtue of its height above grade, its lattice configuration, its and banded red and white Federal Aviation Administration required color pattern, and its proximity to Niagara University, the tower is visually significant.  Also, the proximity of this key vantage point with the switchyard, substation, and electric transmission lines is also visually important. Though the area around the switchyard is manicured and well maintained, the dimensions of the switchyard substation and lattice transmission structures, their combined visual complexity, and the placement of the tower make for a relatively congested appearance. 

The strain bus structures of the switchyard are 97 feet tall and the 345Kv electric transmission towers are 96-184 feet tall.  The total area of the switchyard and substation is approximately 25.6 acres.  With respect to transmission lines, some (115kV lines) are equipped with conductor anti-galloping dampers and mid-span spacers that significantly increase their visibility while such eye-catching equipment is absent on other adjacent (230kV and 345 kV) nearby lines.

It is clear that previous landscape treatments were designed and placed to buffer the switchyard and the communication tower and to visually separate them from Niagara University.  

2.6.3        Aesthetic Analysis (C)

The manicured grounds of Niagara University imperceptibly blend with the manicured grounds of NPP.  As previously discussed, Niagara University is an educational institution with a campus composed of attractive structural and landscape architectural elements.  Though Niagara University and NPP seemingly share significant grassy expanses and borders, there are locations where greater visual separation is an option worth considering. 

2.6.4        Mitigation (C)

As previously mentioned, NYPA developed previous landscape treatments that were designed and placed to buffer the switchyard and the communication tower and to visually separate them from Niagara University.  It is recommended that a strengthening of visual screening using a combination of strategies be investigated to further minimize impacts of the switchyard, substation, and attendant transmission lines.  Niagara University should be consulted to establish a mutually beneficial program of treatments and enhancements that further an aesthetically compatible relationship between the two neighbors.

Earthen mounds, supplemented with screening vegetation and ornamental plantings may best serve these needs.  It would not be out of line to consider this combination to secure maximum visual separation of the switchyard from the University.  The landscaping will need to give consideration to maintaining security and safety of the switchyard and preserving the conductor security zone for the transmission lines.

2.7         Reservoir Visible from Tuscarora Lands

Another major landowner shares extensive borders with the Niagara Power Project—the Tuscarora Nation.  The eastern edge of the Lewiston Reservoir abuts their lands for a distance of approximately 8,000 feet.    The lands of the Tuscarora have special cultural, historical, and spiritual significance for the Tuscarora people.    Because of the nature of aesthetics and the close ties between it and land ethics, the particular sensitivities of the Nation may not be known or appreciated outside of the culture.  Judging visual and aesthetic impacts, therefore, is somewhat difficult.  Accordingly, among other recommendations, it is strongly suggested that NYPA consult with the Tuscaroras before any program of mitigation, enhancements, or offsets is established.

The recommendations in Section 4.7.4 have not been developed in consultation with the Tuscarora. Nation at this time.

2.7.1        Vantage Point Location (A)

From a visual perspective, the key vantage point is near the border between NPP and Tuscarora Lands.  Garlow Road runs along the eastern edge of the Reservoir. Mount Hope Road intersects with Garlow about a mile north of Route 31.  A view of the Reservoir wall is revealed from the toe of the slope. Where the roads intersect, there is more than likely a location of relatively high exposure.  There is also a four-wheel drive vehicular track up the slope of the Reservoir at this location.  Combined with the nearby road intersection, it appears this area has a higher exposure rate than other more nondescript locations, thus making it a key vantage point.

  The location above this key vantage point along the rim of the Reservoir reveals another perspective and has also been selected as a key vantage point for further analysis in Section 4.8.    

2.7.2        Visual Analysis (A)

The Tuscarora Lands bordering the eastern wall of the dike are primarily rural and agricultural.  The dike appears as a massive green wall extending for about 7,000 feet.  It is about 33 feet high and nearly level all the way around the rim and base. 

The dike physically and visually separates Tuscarora Lands from lands to the west.  The informal vehicular path breaks its uniform surface pattern.  The surface is a relatively uniform blend of low-growing, weedy vegetation.

An electric distribution line runs the length of the road and a residence is located at the Garlow/Mount Hope intersection.  

2.7.3        Aesthetic Analysis

The dike is a substantial visual presence that dictates the character of the western part of the Tuscarora Lands.  It is steep-sided and looks like and functions like a wall.  Whether the separation is positive, negative, or neutral depends upon the attitudes and perceptions of the Tuscarora. 

2.7.4        Mitigation (A)

It is recommended that the Power Authority consult with the Tuscarora Nation concerning program elements and landscape architectural treatments, enhancements, and offsets utilizing native plant and grass materials.

2.8         Reservoir

2.8.1        Vantage Point Location (B)

The rim of the Lewiston Reservoir offers a completely different perspective of the relationship between the Lands of the Tuscarora Nation and the Niagara Power Project.  The rim is a 6.5-mile long path used by fishermen, hikers, and others for active and passive recreational purposes.  The rim is approximately 33 feet above the base.  There is an unimpeded view in all directions from this viewpoint.  It is the key vantage point.

2.8.2        Visual Analysis (B)

The top of the slope of the Lewiston Reservoir offers extended and unimpeded foreground views of the Lewiston Reservoir along with more distant views of the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant. Various attendant transmission lines are also visible.  Because of its elevated position and by virtue of the lack of vegetative screens, the top of the dike offers the observer one of the few 360-degree panoramas in the project study area.

2.8.3        Aesthetic Analysis

By virtue of the contiguous presence of the Tuscarora Nation there may be two categories of observers—the general public and the Tuscarora.  Because attitude, memory, and mood all contribute to perception and aesthetic response, it is anticipated that there may be different reactions to the Reservoir. 

The dike creates a substantial visual barrier because of its steep slope, uniform height, and composition.  The vegetated slope appears weedy and therefore a little messy or unkempt.  Another negative aspect is the erosion scar where four-wheel drive vehicles have opened tire tracks along a portion of the slope face.  For typical observer, the Reservoir may appear as a barrier that is out-of-place in the otherwise flat agricultural landscape to the east.  Fluctuating water levels, observable from the top of the dike may also be perceived by some as negative.

4.8.4    Mitigation

The slope of the Reservoir and its base are in need of landscape treatment.  As indicated, the vegetated slope currently appears weedy and, therefore, a little messy or unkempt.  Accordingly, a landscape program that improves the appearance of the eastern dike is recommended.

2.9         Reservoir State Park

Reservoir State Park, in the Town of Niagara along Route 31, is the most heavily used park in Niagara County.   The Park has tennis courts, baseball diamonds, a basketball court, and picnic facilities. It is also home to the largest softball complex in Niagara County. Other users include soccer players, runners, kite fliers, and model airplane clubs.  Winter use of the Park for cross-country skiing and sledding on the slope embankment of the reservoir is popular.

2.9.1        Vantage Point Location

The highest vantage point of the Park is the rim of the Reservoir.  Coincident with the water containment function, the dike functions as an overlook and pedestrian way. The highest use area of the rim appears to be at the top of the access pathway.  This location is also proximate to the area where sledding is provided down the slope of the embankment.   It is the key vantage point.

2.9.2        Visual Analysis

  While Reservoir State Park provides visitors with passive recreational opportunities, the views from this Park are not as dramatic as those from the Robert Moses Power Vista Visitor Center and Overlook. Instead, Reservoir State Park functions more as an active outdoor recreational facility providing users with a variety of outdoor sport and recreational pursuits.  However, views are not without merit, and they constitute an aspect clearly worthy of visual and aesthetic attention.  As stated in Section 4.8.2, because of its elevated position and by virtue of the lack of vegetative screens, the rim offers one of the few complete panoramas in the project study area.

The overlook offers substantial views of the Reservoir, surrounding Parkland, and other more distant places and developments.  The Reservoir is approximately 1,900 acres.  A variable inside shoreline is comprised of sharp rocks of riprap size.  The outside slope in the vicinity of the vantage point is a well-maintained, grassy expanse that blends with the Park below.  A number of major NPP facilities can be seen from the centrally located and elevated rim of the Reservoir.  Views of the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, the Gantry Crane, the Communication Tower, and Transmission Lines are important components of the view. 

2.9.3        Aesthetic Analysis

As stated above, the Lewiston Reservoir offers a truly classical panorama because there are no intervening patches of vegetation or other obstacles in any direction. The feeling of open space and the special aesthetic effect such openness affords to users of this recreational resource is of merit.

2.9.4        Mitigation

As an enhancement, amenities that better define the overlook and its function should be considered.

The positive features of Reservoir State Park may be further protected and enhanced with a strengthening and reinforcement of plantings strategically located below the Reservoir in locations that will better screen the switchyard area from users of the Park.

2.10     The Twin Intakes Overlook Park

The Twin Intakes Overlook consists of manicured and well-maintained grounds and the two conduit intake structures.  The twin intakes are identical.  They are approximately 100 feet in height and serve as the openings for conduits that divert Niagara River water to the Lewiston Reservoir.  There is a parking area pull-off from the Robert Moses Parkway sufficient for about 35 vehicles.  A river walkway provides easy visitor access and foreground views of the upper Niagara River.

2.10.1    Vantage Point Location

The most important aesthetic feature of the intake overlook area is the adjacent Niagara River.  Such proximity affords viewers with direct opportunities to enjoy and appreciate the qualities of this water resource.  The upper Niagara River presents markedly different qualities than those found in its lower reaches.  The quietly moving water is an aesthetic asset that contrasts with the rapidly moving waters above and below the Falls.  The key vantage point should be very close to the River in order to take advantage of the incontrovertible human desire to observe, enjoy, and appreciate natural water.  The most important man-made features are, of course, the Twin Intakes.  The mid-point between the intake structures within the River walkway is hypothesized to be the highest use area, and because of this, it is the key vantage point.

2.10.2    Visual Analysis

Users of this aesthetic resource can walk east or west along the River to fully experience the River ambiance. At the same time, viewers will also be exposed to the Twin Intake Structures that are among the more important engineering features of the Niagara Power Project.  The surrounding landscape includes the Robert Moses Parkway and its four lanes of east-west traffic.  Further north lies the concentrated industrial/chemical plant complex within the City of Niagara Falls.  Prominently visible are the plumes, stacks, and various chemical plant ancillary structures.

Lighting fixtures are attached to the structures and are on during daylight hours.

2.10.3    Aesthetic Analysis

The landscape architectural features and qualities of the overlook are clear indicators of past aesthetic criteria employed by the original designers of NPP.  The Twin Intakes have a tailored design and a skin that is not merely a reflection of the engineering functions enclosed within.  Instead, its cosmetic surface textures, lines, and forms were proactively designed to provide viewers with architectural details and stylistic features worthy of the sensitive riverfront site.  The landscape architectural treatment is also consistent with the aesthetically important Niagara River shoreline and was equally recognized as worthy of special treatment by its designers.

2.10.4    Mitigation

The full function of the lighting attached to each of the Twin Intake Structures should be examined, and the aesthetic values preserved.  However, a review of the timing activation or photocell sensitivity of the fixtures should be undertaken and the daylight lighting eliminated if deemed unnecessary for security or other purposes.

2.11     Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier

The Public Fishing Pier is located at the bottom of the gorge at the base of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. It consists of a vehicular turnaround and handicap-accessible parking for about four vehicles.  Other more substantial parking is located at the entranceway at the top of the gorge.  A short walkway from the turnaround leads the user to the shoreline.  In addition, a more formal publicly accessible Fishing Pier has been designed and installed by the Authority to accommodate fishermen.    A series of steps and landings take the visitor down to the main platform.  Although it is designed as a recreational facility, the Pier offers a superb view of the gorge and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. 

2.11.1    Vantage Point Location

The Niagara River is the key aesthetic component of this vantage point.  The spot closest to the River and most distant from the Plant has the best unimpeded views of both the Plant and the explosive upwelling water discharge.  Therefore, it is the key vantage point.

2.11.2    Visual Analysis

The users of the fishing pier can see the massive wall of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the gorge wall, the River, the Robert Beck Power generating facility, the lower red gantry cranes, and the Power Vista Observation Deck above.

The facility offers fishermen not only an opportunity to fish, but also to see the NPP in context with the Niagara River Gorge.

2.11.3    Aesthetic Analysis

The viewer is treated to the most unusual and dramatic visual effect of the water discharge.  It appears to be boiling water and by itself is both fascinating and compelling.  The vertical wall of the Generating Plant overwhelms the viewer from a subordinate position.

2.11.4    Mitigation

The lower crane is in need of repainting, and the storage trailers should be considered as indicated in the mitigation discussion in Section 4.3.4.

2.12     Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area)

Adam’s Slip, or the waterfowl observation area, is located just off the Robert Moses Parkway adjacent to the upper Niagara River.  The Upper Niagara River is a significant aesthetic resource for a variety of reasons and especially because it offers an attractive water-dependent opportunity for enhanced “passive” recreational opportunities. Users can observe and appreciate waterfowl along with their natural river environment.  

The bay area includes a barge, a tugboat, and an attendant service dock.  Visitors can park in an informal gravel lot near the intersection of the River and the bay. 

2.12.1    Vantage Point Location

The easily accessible level area just above the shoreline point near the intersection of the bay and the River is hypothesized to be the most heavily used area.  It has the best views of the River; therefore it is the key vantage point.

2.12.2    Visual Analysis

Important man-made components of visual interest at Adam’s slip include the tugboat and service crane, the moored barge, the security camera, the gravel parking area, the gas pumps, an ancillary storage building, the dock, and a shoreline signal light and post.

The natural elements include the quietly moving River, the sanctuary-like bay known as Adam’s Slip, and the preponderance of short, shrubby vegetation that defines the edge of the River.  Other informal weedy vegetation is scattered throughout the area. 

The dock defines the southern edge of the bay while vegetation defines the north.  A service building occupies the eastern end.  The security camera and the service crane are vertical elements of significance, although because of its position near the intersection of the bay and the River, the relatively short signal light is also important.

The Robert Moses Parkway is a commanding presence with its moving traffic, noise, and commotion vying for viewer attention. 

2.12.3    Aesthetic Analysis

The quietly moving water contributes to a peaceful setting.  In contrast, the hurried commotion and noise of passing traffic along the Parkway can break this river-induced feeling of serenity.  The attention-grabbing power of the traffic diminishes as one moves away from the access and parking area towards the River.

An observer may pause to reflect on the sharp aesthetic contrast between the quietly moving water at hand with the powerful plunging water of the nearby Falls.   At first glance, the mists and fog that hang over the River just to the north seem to arise out of nowhere, and this increases the level of the observer’s interest.  Upon realization of the origin of the mist and fog, the contrast is made manifest and the observer’s mind is carried forward in space and time to the precipice.

The tugboat may be perceived in different ways.  To many it is simply a functional vessel moored here for unknown River-related purposes.  To knowledgeable viewers, it is the means to break ice and remove debris from the water intakes.  To others it is a snub-nosed “engine that could.”  Such river craft are, at worst, aesthetically neutral, and they are usually perceived as positive additions to the scene.

The security camera and support pole are negative features, although the placement overlooking the tug and gas pumps is justified.

The barge offers two aesthetics. One is of the rusted metal, aged wood, and weed bed along its deck evoking positive “picturesque” feelings.  The other is one of abandonment and no useful purpose.  Individuals may harbor one or both aesthetic feelings.

The informal gravel vehicular pull-off surface is messy, rutted, and aesthetically impaired

Overall, Adam’s slip is a place of significant aesthetic opportunity.

2.12.4    Mitigation

It is recommended that consideration be given to the following mitigation elements.

To prevent light pollution, the use of a full cutoff fixture is also recommended. Traditional landscape architectural treatments are recommended to achieve a functional and attractive parking area.  Separation of the passive recreational activities from the Robert Moses Highway is both achievable and desirable.  A study that explores the potential aesthetic values of the tug and barge in combination with the bird watching activities is recommended.

The weedy looking vegetation may play a supporting ecosystem role in the waterfowl habitat.  This means that design treatments in this area should be accomplished in consultation with waterfowl experts.

2.13     Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park

The Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park is a 124-acre State Park dedicated to performing and visual arts programs, including Broadway musicals and classical, jazz, and pop music concerts; art exhibits; and classes, workshops, and demonstrations.

Tours of the Park’s geological and historic sites and nature trails are also available and fishermen can access the Niagara River shoreline.  River access also affords substantial passive aesthetic values to those who take the stairs down to the bottom of the gorge.

2.13.1    Vantage Point Location

There are few opportunities available from within the Park to observe NPP facilities in context with the Gorge.  The trail along the rim is an overlook during the leaf-off season, but no stretch without substantial vegetative interference exceeded the quality of the unimpeded view available from the extreme western edge of the Park at the base of the gorge.  The outermost point along the beach with the best view of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and Gorge area is a small but generally accessible flat rock that enables a viewer to perch above the shore and gaze southward up the axis of the Gorge to see the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in context with the Gorge.  It is the key vantage point.

2.13.2    Visual Analysis

Though access is restricted to those capable of climbing several flights of stairs, the selected vantage point nonetheless offers the best combination of circumstances to see the Niagara River and Gorge area.  By its proximity to the parking lot, exposure potential is high, and, while numbers of viewers are anticipated to be relatively small, compared to overall Park usage, the opportunity for an unimpeded view is clearly obtainable.

Near at hand, the beach and the River dominate foreground views.  The water moves rapidly in this reach and is visually a clear point of interest for all observers.  A short rocky and narrow stretch of beach is also visually interesting.  Fishermen position themselves for privacy and casting space along the shore. 

The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant is prominent in the southern view from this vantage point.  It is 8,000 feet distant; therefore, its image and impact is reduced from the combined optical effects of distance and atmospheric perspective.   Nevertheless, it is perceived as a large structure pressed up against the distant gorge wall.  The Queenston-Lewiston Bridge is also prominently in view, about 5,000 feet away, and the effects of perspective also diminish its visual presence somewhat.

2.13.3    Aesthetic Analysis

The Artpark, with its extensive menu of active and passive recreational choices, provides opportunities for public enjoyment and appreciation of the Niagara River and Gorge Area.   It is a significant aesthetic resource with internal features explicitly designed to be aesthetically pleasing.  The vantage point is an important opportunity for near-hand views of the River and Gorge area. 

2.13.4    Mitigation

Views from the Park toward the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant are of merit.  However, little in the way of mitigation is recommended from this distant location.

2.14     Devil’s Hole State Park

Devil’s Hole State Park is located about one-half to one mile south of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.  It is a State Park that provides overlooks of the Niagara River and Gorge Area and has sites of historic interest, some picnic facilities, and access to the lower Gorge and River area.  It is connected to Whirlpool State Park by lower and upper trails and is heavily used by visitors intent on enjoying and appreciating the Niagara River and Gorge area.

2.14.1    Vantage Point Location

The upper trail is a continuous pathway with a series of openings providing exceptional elevated views of the Gorge.  The portion of the upper trail closest to the public parking area is heavily used.  There is an area with an excellent opening through the trees, near the parking lot, with unimpeded dramatic northerly views of the gorge area and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.  It is the key vantage point.

2.14.2    Visual Analysis

Certain smaller details and components of the Generating Plant are lost or sharply reduced because of the mitigating effects of distance and atmospheric perspective from this distance.  The totality and dramatic size of the facility, however, is most fully revealed from this middleground view.  It shows the Plant in context with the Gorge area.  It is a perspective that is not obtainable from the Power Vista Overlook.

The pedestrian-compacted walkway and an adjacent tubular, steel security fence that separates hikers from the Gorge drop-off define the trail.  Ample numbers of mature trees provide shade and green accents to this State Park.  The Park was located and designed in obvious fashion to take advantage of views of the Niagara River Gorge.

2.14.3    Aesthetic Analysis

Much like the Power Vista, the depth and drama of the Devil’s Hole overlook offers a powerful and awe-inspiring aesthetic experience.  The vertical drop into the gorge and the rushing torrent below are the main focal points, while the massive wall of the electric generating facility is the man-made element that captures viewers’ attention.  While the foreground details perceptible at the Power Vista Overlook are lost at this distance, the vertical columns and massive wall of the Power Plant make the engineering marvel a significant aesthetic asset.

2.14.4    Mitigation

No mitigation is recommended for this vantage point

2.15     Whirlpool State Park

Whirlpool State Park is a 109-acre State Park located in the City of Niagara Falls. It occupies an elbow-shaped piece of ground along the eastern rim of the Niagara Gorge about two to three miles north of Niagara Falls.  It overlooks a reach of the lower Niagara River known as The Whirlpool.  Breathtaking views of the Gorge are available to visitors, as are trails, picnic tables, and a playground for children.  Access is obtained via the Robert Moses Parkway.

2.15.1    Vantage Point Location

Among the main features of the Park are the aforementioned trails, with intermittent overlooks sited and designed to maximize appreciation the qualities of the Niagara River and Gorge area.  The trail with the most elevated and commanding view, that includes views of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, is the upper trail.  While many of the views are partially impeded by vegetation, the best view is relatively clear, while still being proximate to the parking lot where exposure is expected to be highest.  It is the key vantage point.

2.15.2    Visual Analysis

Users of the trail experience intermittent views of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant as they stroll northward along the upper trail.  Some views are blocked or partially obscured during the leaf-on season, but glimpses are still frequently available since the vegetation consists of a relatively thin band near the rim of the gorge.

The trail is defined by a fence composed of three rows of connected gray metallic tubes that form an effective barrier between hikers and the nearby edge of the gorge.  Mature vegetation provides shade and a naturalized ornamental setting.  The Parkway and parking lot, the River and the Gorge, and NPP are the main visual components of this vantage point. 

The Plant is about two miles distant from the vantage point and is viewed with some diminishment of visual impact due to the optical effects of size perspective and “washout” from atmospheric perspective.    

2.15.3    Aesthetic Analysis

The series of overlooks that break through the vegetation occurs throughout the carefully designed and sited trail system.  Dramatic views of the Niagara River and Gorge area can be enjoyed and appreciated.  The depth of the view and the coursing River are attractive and compelling for hikers.  The massive man-made wall of the NPP is visible at a distance that most viewers would have difficulty establishing accurately, since the true size of the plant may not be perceptible without traditional human-scale figures.   Nevertheless, it will be perceived as a large structure of some sort even to the uninitiated observer.  To those who pause to wonder what it is, they will more than likely draw the conclusion that it is a hydroelectric generating facility.

2.15.4    Mitigation

No mitigation is recommended for this vantage point

2.16     Niagara Reservation State Park (Goat Island)

Goat Island is part of the Niagara Reservation State Park.  It is also known as Niagara Falls State Park.  It is America’s oldest State Park, consisting of over 400,000 acres.  It is located adjacent to the cataracts and affords visitors a dramatic view of the falls, as well as the upper and lower reaches of the Niagara River and Gorge Area.  Bird watching is also an important aesthetic pursuit, inasmuch as the area is famous for concentrations of waterfowl that populate nearby river habitats.  The northern end of Goat Island faces upstream towards the Twin Intake Structures.

2.16.1    Vantage Point Location

A circular drive and parking lot allows for public access to all parts of Goat Island.  At the southeastern tip some benches are provided with cleared lawn areas between the viewer and the River.  A formal overlook, this area offers unimpeded leaf-off views of portions of the relatively distant Twin Intake Structures, making it the key vantage point.

2.16.2    Visual Analysis

Viewers are offered a pleasant and relatively quiet overlook towards the east (upstream).  The shoreline across the River is a point of interest, as well as the various structures, including the sky-lined Twin Intakes, that may also briefly capture the viewer’s attention. The Twin Intakes are about two miles distant from the vantage point and there is some intervening vegetation across the River that obscures the structures even during the leaf-off season.  The thinnest profile of the Intakes is oriented towards the viewer; therefore, they are hard to identify even by a knowledgeable observer.  At this distance, and under these circumstances, the impact is relatively minor.

2.16.3    Aesthetic Analysis

Viewers at this vantage point can enjoy and appreciate the qualities of the upper Niagara River.  One feature of visual and aesthetic interest is very near the point at which the current divides around the island.  Visitors appear to seek this spot as indicated by the use patterns visible on the ground.

The Twin Intakes are of minor aesthetic importance due to the effects of distance and view-impeding vegetation.

2.16.4    Mitigation

No mitigation is recommended for this vantage point

2.17     Buckhorn Island State Park

Buckhorn Island State Park is located at the northern end of Grand Island along the southern shore of the Niagara River.  It is a marshland preserve consisting of 895 acres of marshes, wet meadows, and wooded wetlands with nature trails for hiking as well as fishing and cross-country skiing.  It is open year-round.

The North Grand Island Bridge slices the preserve in a north-south axis, while River Parkway enters from the South.  River Parkway is a designated scenic roadway.  Burnt Ship Creek flows through the middle of the Preserve, while Woods Creek flows into the Niagara in the eastern end of the Park.  Navy Island is just to the west of the Park within the Niagara River.

2.17.1    Vantage Point Location

To view the only nearby major NPP project component (the Twin Intake Structures), an observer must be located along the Niagara River with an unimpeded view towards the north, and the Niagara County Water District Pumping Station Overlook does provide such a vantage point.  It is the key vantage point.

2.17.2    Visual Analysis

The viewer is offered an unimpeded view of the Upper Niagara River along with the Twin Water Intake Structures located a little less than two miles away on the opposite shoreline.  The orientation of the view is directed towards the Intake Structures, although an excellent view of Navy Island is also within the primary viewshed. 

There is a small parking area for a few cars, and a few benches are provided as amenities.   The benches face the River and are placed within a narrow, mowed lawn that extends almost to the River edge assuring continuous unobstructed views.  The Pumping Station is a chain-linked fenced utility area consisting of a small service building, a propane tank, and other ancillary plant components.  Generally it is of little architectural merit.  An incomplete vegetative screen fails to achieve its intended purpose.

The Twin Intakes are clearly visible from the vantage point and the textures of the façades are easily perceptible even from this distance.  Also clearly discernible are the many structures of the industrial complex, particularly massed to the east of the Intakes.

2.17.3    Aesthetic Analysis

The vantage point offers an overlook of some merit of the upper Niagara River.  The Intakes are viewed in their entirety, including the architectural details that render these structures as aesthetically positive features.  However, the open views of the Pumping Station are an unattractive distraction that sharply lessens the quality of the overlook.

2.17.4    Mitigation

It is recommended that the failed vegetative screen be replaced to fully screen and soften the adverse impact of the Pumping Station and thereby enhance the quality of the overlook experience for users of Buckhorn Island State Park.

2.18     Hyde Park

Hyde Park is located to the east of Hyde Park Boulevard extending to the Niagara Falls High School and to the north of Porter Road in the City of Niagara Falls.  Buried beneath the Park are the NPP water conduits.  Hyde Park offers nature trails, fishing, swimming, ice-skating, picnicking, golf, football, tennis, volleyball, baseball, and other recreational activities.  It is a large and centrally located Park for the City of Niagara Falls. 

2.18.1    Vantage Point Location

Porter Road runs through the center of the Park.  It provides access to the Adelphia Sports Complex and the Niagara Falls High School.  The openness of the golf course, just to the north of Porter Road directly across from the parking lot, provides for a clear and unimpeded view of the transmission lines that emanate from NPP.  It is the key vantage point.

2.18.2    Visual Analysis

The transmission lines in with vicinity of the NPP are clearly visible towards the north and east from this vantage point.  For at least some observers, the transmission lines are a significant visual presence.  Others ignore them as they engage in recreational activities.   

2.18.3    Aesthetic Analysis

For those that enjoy the more passive recreational opportunities offered at the Park, the transmission lines might be perceived as out-of-character in the Park setting.  However, the Park, in general, also provides views of the industrial complex to the southeast, Niagara Falls High School, and the Adelphia Sports Complex.  Accordingly, it is an attractive park with multiple aesthetic characteristics typical of such urban parks.

2.18.4    Mitigation

It is recommended that NYPA explore “on-site” and “off-site” screening mitigation of the transmission facility with the City of Niagara Falls. While not necessarily related to the key vantage point, an offset opportunity exists in the area of the conduit right-of-way (ROW).  It is recommended that NYPA study a mitigation strategy within the conduit ROW to the southeast that softens and screens the industrial complex from the Park.

2.19     The Forebay Overlook

The forebay is the channel that connects the Lewiston Pump Storage Plant with the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.  The water flows and disappears into the intakes of the Robert Moses facility. The forebay “overlook” is not a formal area; however, in order to fully analyze all major NYPA components it is necessary to include a vantage point that features it.  The parking lot for the Power Vista Observation Center is located immediately adjacent to the forebay.  A nicely landscaped green space separates the channel from the pavement.  Viewers are afforded several open views by going just a few steps out onto the lawn.  

4.19.1  Vantage Point Location

The spot with the most unimpeded view of the forebay and closest to a heavily used part of the parking lot is located very proximate to the channel.  It is the key vantage point.

4.19.2  Visual Analysis

The forebay is one of the key project components.  However, it is a cut channel and the viewshed, therefore, is quite limited.  Nevertheless, the relatively large numbers of visitors to the Power Vista Overlook have an easy opportunity to view it.     

4.19.3  Aesthetic Analysis

Waterbodies are known to attract viewers and this one is of particular interest with the action of the current mysteriously disappearing into the inlets of the power generating facility.  It is an unusual and fascinating man-made water display and one with aesthetic merit.

4.19.4  Mitigation

A small, well-placed overlook with an interpretive sign is recommended as an enhancement.

 

Figure 4.0-1

Key Vantage Points

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1-1

Front Park Vantage Point

 

Figure 4.2-1

Niagara Power Project Power Vista Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.4-1

Niagara University Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.7-1

Reservoir Visible from Tuscarora Lands Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.9-1

Reservoir State Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.10-1

Niagara Power Project Twin Intakes Overlook Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.11-1

Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.12-1

Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area) Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.13-1

Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.14-1

Devil’s Hole State Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.15-1

Whirlpool State Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.16-1

Niagara Reservation State Park (Goat Island) Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.17-1

Buckhorn Island State Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.18-1

Hyde Park Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.19-1

Forebay Overlook Vantage Point Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.20-1

Key Vantage Points Composite Viewshed

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.1 – Front Park (Leaf-Off)

 Vantage Point 4.1 – Front Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

 

Vantage Point 4.1 – Front Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

 

Vantage Point 4.1 – Front Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.11 – Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.11 – Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.11 – Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.11 – Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-Off)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-Off)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Goat Island, Leaf-Off)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Goat Island, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Goat Island, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Goat Island, Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-Off)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-Off)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-Off)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-Off) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.1 – Front Park (Leaf-On)

No photographs taken

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.2 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.3 – Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Visitors’ Center/Overlook, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara University (Leaf-On)

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.4 – Niagara university (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.5 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.6 – Niagara University (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.7 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.8 – Tuscarora Lands (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.9 – Reservoir State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.10 – The Twin Intakes Overlook Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.11 – Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant Public Fishing Pier (Leaf-On)

No photographs taken

 

 Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.12 – Adam’s Slip (Waterfowl Observation Area, Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-On)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.13 – Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.14 – Devil’s Hole State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-On)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.15 – Whirlpool State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.16 – Niagara Reservation State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-On)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.17 – Buckhorn Island State Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-On)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)


Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.18 – Hyde Park (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-On)

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

Vantage Point 4.19 – The Forebay Overlook (Leaf-On) (Cont.)

 

REFERENCES

By reference here all relevant existing information identified by ALP Stakeholders was reviewed. These include reports, studies and maps, as follows.

Cornell University Geospatial Information Repository (CUGIR):
Digital Raster Graphics – provided by NYSDEC.
Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) – provided by NYSDEC.

First Stage Consultation Report – NYPA 2002.

“Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council Bicycle Route Guide.” Greater Buffalo/Niagara Area. Summer 2002.

New York Power Authority Compilation of Transmission Tower Types and Height of PA27 1-8, NR1 1/2-2/4, NR2 1/2-2/4 Towers.

New York Power Authority OPRHP (oprhp.*). GIS Data.

New York Power Authority Property Maps.

New York Power Authority Recreational Trails (rectrail.*). GIS data and NYSOPRHP trail descriptions. 2004. <http://www.manchesterhouse.com>.

New York Power Authority Vegetated and Residential Areas (wid.*). GIS Data.

New York Power Authority Water Bodies (wbod.*). GIS Data.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “Assessing and Mitigating Visual Impacts.” NYSDEC Program Policy, DEP-00-2. Division of Environmental Permits. July 31, 2000.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation National Register Information System. 2004. <http://www.nr.nps.gov>.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. “New York State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.” 2003.

New York State Scenic Byways Seaway Trail. 2004. <http://www.seawaytrail.com>.

Niagara University Website. Jan. 2004. <http://www.niagara.edu/mission/MissionStatement.htm>.

Silliman, Keith G. and Ryan, Jay. “The Relicensing of the New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project (FERC No. 2216).” Waterpower XIII. HCI Publication. 2003 <http//www.hcipub.com>.

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-1200 Rev. 13.

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-1201 Rev. 8.

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-1202 Rev. 8.

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-1203 Rev. 10.

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-200 Rev. 3 (P1).

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-201 Rev. 2.

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-210 Rev. 6 (P1).

Structural Engineering Drawing PA-7-8S-211 Rev. 4.

Structural Engineering Drawing JA39950B Rev. 1 (P1).

Structural Engineering Drawing V3731-E603 Rev. 10.

Structural Engineering Drawing V3731-E604 Rev. 10.

Tower Schedules for NR1 and NR2 (STR 1/1 to 2/5).

USGS Maps and Local Land Use plans and proposals. Project Boundary Survey Maps and Aerial Photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendices

 

 

Appendix A

Consistency with the 2003 Final Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement

This project addresses goals, objectives, and policies contained in the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation 2003 Final Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).  Although this visual assessment conducted within the NYPA licensing process does not have a direct impact on recreational goals and objectives of the SCORP, it is recognized that the visual character of a “place” has an impact on how the “place” is experienced.  It is also important to note that the New York Power Authority has taken special care in the development of its projects to include unique recreational opportunities for the residents and visitors to the region. 

The project tangentially addresses the SCORP policies and strategies as follows:

Policy: Preserve and Protect Natural and Cultural Resources (p. 5.3)

Scenic resources in the coastal area are among the resources to be protected; in some cases these are natural (e.g., geological resources such as Niagara Falls).  The project does not have a negative visual impact on the visitor’s experience to Niagara Falls because it cannot be seen from the Falls.  Further, NYPA leases lands to the OPRHP for the Earl W. Brydges Artpark.  As noted above, the Upper Niagara River Observation Facility is an overlook park located at the site of the water intakes on the Upper Niagara River. 

Policy: Develop comprehensive recreationway, greenway, and heritage trail systems (p. 5-4)

The New York Power Authority provides recreation opportunities at three of its facilities: the Twin Intake Structures (also known as the Upper Niagara River Observation Facility), the Lewiston Reservoir, and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.  The Upper Niagara River Observation Facility is an overlook park located at the site of the water intakes on the Upper Niagara River.  The site includes a parking area, asphalt walkways, and a concrete balcony along approximately 1,800 feet of the River’s edge.  The Lewiston Reservoir includes a six-mile trail that circles the reservoir, which provides residents with access for fishing and walking or jogging.  The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant includes a fishing pier and shoreline access.  Adjacent to the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant is the Niagara Power Project Visitor Center and Overlook.  Finally, NYPA provides an easement to the City of Niagara Falls near Adam’s Slip for the Upper River Trail, which is a paved biking/pedestrian trail extending from LaSalle Park to the Niagara Reservation.  The trail is located on NYPA lands between the Robert Moses Parkway and the Niagara River shoreline. 

The protection of coastal scenic areas can be enhanced through the designation of Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance under the State’s CMP.   New York State has long recognized the importance of scenic resources. The interaction of man with the landscape has made New York’s coast a visually exciting and valued place. Designation of Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance by DOS provides additional protection for coastal landscapes that are recognized for their importance in the natural, cultural, and historic significance to the State.  Six Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance have been designated along the Hudson River; none have been designated within the NYPA project area. 

 

Appendix B

Viewsheds

There are two kinds of viewsheds presented in this report. One is a map that shows all areas capable of being seen by a viewer standing at a selected key vantage point.  The other is a map that shows all areas from which a key project component is visible.  A composite viewshed of each type has been provided, showing all areas from which any major NPP facility component is visible, as well as the complete study area. 

Figure 3.1.10 is a composite viewshed map that shows all areas from which each of nine (9) key Niagara Power Project components may be seen.

The tallest and most visible project components are the major components and are used as control points to assure that the widest geographic extent of visibility is captured by each viewshed.

To develop standard viewsheds, a digital base map was prepared using 1:24,000-scale NYS Department of Transportation Raster Quadrangles obtained through the NYS GIS Clearinghouse. In this evaluation, ArcView 3D Analyst and ArcInfo GIS software was used to generate a viewshed overlay map based on publicly available digital topographic data sets. Viewshed overlays are created by first importing a digital elevation model (DEM) of the study area. This DEM, obtainable through the Cornell University Geographic Information Repository (CUGIR), is based on 1:24,000 scale USGS topographic maps (10-foot contour intervals) and accurate to a 10-meter grid cell resolution. The computer then scans 360 degrees across this DEM from the high point of each subject study control points, distinguishing grid cells that would be hidden from view from those that would be visible based on topography only.

To include forest vegetation in the viewshed analysis, vegetation data from the NYPA Wildlife Land Use/Habitat shapefile was extracted and added to the DEM.  The forested areas extracted were classified as Active Orchard, Active Vineyard, Beech Maple Mesic Forest, Calcareous Talus Slope Woodland, Conifer Plantation, Forested Wetland, Limestone Woodland, Oak-Hickory Forest, Scrub-Shrub Wetland and Successional Northern Hardwood forests.  1999 Digital Orthophoto Quadrangles (DOQs) were referenced to verify this vegetation data and identify more forested areas beyond the NYPA Wildlife Land Use/Habitat shapefile extent.  Polygons from the NYPA Wildlife Land Use/Habitat shapefile were removed or modified if the vegetation on the DOQs appeared sparse and/or not existent and polygons were added to areas where vegetation on the DOQs appeared forested.  The forested areas were converted from a polygon (vector) format to a raster format and represented in the viewshed analysis at a height of forty feet.  An assumption of the viewshed analysis is that the forested areas cannot be seen through and therefore generally represent leaf-out conditions. 

It is important to note that the vegetation data used in the viewshed analysis does not represent individual trees and/or shrubs rather groups of trees and/or shrubs.  As such, the potential screening value of site-specific vegetative cover such as small hedgerows and individual trees and other areas of non-forest tree cover may not be represented realistically in the viewshed analysis. Those features and potential screening value of existing structures will be identified as part of the photo analysis component of the study.

Residential data was also extracted from the NYPA Wildlife Land Use/Habitat shapefile.  These residential areas represent high-density residential development within the City of Niagara Falls.  Similar to the vegetation data, the residential data was converted from vector to raster format and incorporated into the viewshed analysis.  However, the residential data was represented at a height of only twenty feet.  The residential polygons were the only structural portions of the NYPA Wildlife Land Use/Habitat shapefile that were deemed suitable to be represented within the viewshed analyses due to the high density of the structures.  It was assumed that these areas could not be seen through due to the density of the building structures as well as vegetation within those areas and therefore could be represented as a solid mass.  Unlike the residential structures, many of the industrial and commercial areas contained structures that were widely spaced and with limited vegetation.  Therefore, these industrial and commercial areas were not deemed suitable to represent as a solid mass within the viewshed analysis.