The Center at High Falls will close on June 30. The visitors center opened opened 20 years ago and wells books and local history souvenirs. There’s also a gallery featuring the work of local artists.
The closing is sad, as the gift shop and gallery are lovely. The loss of the gift shop combined with the previous loss of the laser light shows marks the end of an era.
The city should answer the following questions: Where will visitors go now to learn more about High Falls? Will the bathrooms still be available? What will the city do with the publicly-owned building? Does the city even want High Falls to be a destination?
The city spends about $226,000 a year to keep the Center at High Falls building open, and only takes in $40,000 in rent. The building also houses a restaurant and event space. It would not surprise me if the city wants to sell it off and get it in the hands of a private developer and on the tax rolls.
High Falls is a beautiful resource. How many other cities have a waterfall in the heart of a downtown historic district? The Garden Aerial project promises to make High Falls a destination, but it’s a long way from reality. The Genesee Brew House is a nice addition on the other side of the river, but that offers nothing to classrooms of school children on a tour.
Whatever happens, it’s important to note High Falls is not a failure. The city spent about $40 million to save the historic district. While it never found its footing as an entertainment district – and tax dollars were wasted in the process – it’s thriving now with offices and residences.
We need watch what the city is doing with High Falls closely. The public has a stake in the Center at High Falls building and the natural resource it overlooks.
Links of the Day:
– Did you order a gun that never arrived? Guns stolen during shipments don’t have to be reported to authorities.
– New York’s new restrictions on sales tax breaks for retail projects are ridiculously easy to get around. Just call a Costco a tourism project.
– Rohrbach’s beer sales have grown 20 percent in each of the last five years.
– An Erie County man sued a developer – and won – when water runoff brought tons of frogs to his front door.