Saturday, November 10, 2012

Placemaking in Niagara Falls

The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls
A lot has been done this week in preparation to the advising meeting coming Monday (November 12th, 2012) in Syracuse. As the last bits and pieces of inventory come in before the synthesis, a few interviews has been done from different people in different positions near the Niagara Falls State Park to get a range of perspectives. After reviewing my notes from the interviews, I have noticed that the answers to the questions were all very different coming from all different perspectives. However, although the answers to my questions to the interviewees were different all of the interviewees had a similar commonality in terms of where the answers were leading. Everybody wanted the Niagara Falls State Park to be sustainable and believed the city needs to do something about the vacancy in the community.

Places are ubiquitous, but they are not static conditions. Theresa, Transportation Coordinator of Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel noted that The Niagara Falls State Park doesn’t help Seneca Casino directly. The Falls as a tourist icon does however bring visitors into the casino indirectly because of the casino enormous fa├žade. The city needs to care more. People who live in the vicinity need to care more. The vacant and condemned buildings need to go or need to be in a serious recovery phase of rebuilding. If the city gives people some reasons to stay (recreational activities, programs, jobs, housing, etc.), people will.

Representation and the political cloud are both very important to how Niagara Falls State Park operates. Mr. Jason Murgia, Director of Event Services in The Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls noted that not much of the money used in the Niagara Falls State Park actually goes to the park itself. Only about 7 percent of what is earned goes to the park itself. The other percent goes back to Albany. There are a lot of strings that are being pulled that people don’t really notice nor see. Once again, people need to care and step in for what they want. Placemaking is extremely important. It gives people of the community a reason to stay. Currently, the Urban Land Institute brought forth by USA Niagara has started planning programs/activities in the downtown region of Niagara Falls. Their goal: Provide a reason for people to come into the downtown region instead of circling around it. The political process is long, complicated, and something I will not get into currently in my thesis project.

Ecological sustainability of the Falls is a very significant part of sustainable ecotourism in the Niagara Falls community. Ms. Angela P. Berti, Public Affairs & Marketing Coordinator of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation emphasized that revitalization of the park is of need to keep the 8 million visitors annually from all over the world to keep coming. A revitalization initiative and landscape improvement plan, $25 million revitalization has been approved by Mayor Dyster, the Mayor of Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls State Park opened in 1885, is the oldest state park in the United States of America. This park plays a key role to the western New York tourism economy contributing to the economic livelihood of the region. 

Looking at all of the perspectives given from the interviews and personal observation, I’ve come to conclude that the Niagara Falls State Park has more of an indirect influence to the community of Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY. As a worldwide tourist icon, it brings people into the region in the first place, but what the city of Niagara Falls and Buffalo really needs is a reason to keep the visitors and potentially have them become a local resident of the city. 

- Edward L

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day In America

Election Day, November 6th, 2012 is officially today. I took the today off from my Off Campus Study and decided to follow up with the Presidential Election of 2012. Polls are officially open from 6am to 9pm for voting. For more information on how to vote and updates on the presidential election, please follow the links below:

I highly encourage everybody to take 5 minutes of their day to go out to their local voting stations to cast their vote for our president for the next 4 years. Every vote counts and could mold your life as well as the good and welfare of the United States of America.  Here are the candidates for the Presidential Election of 2012:

Republican- Mitt Romney
Democrat- Barack Obama

Happy Voting, 
- Edward L 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Outlining the Design Thesis Project

As part of this Off Campus study, I am to complete a design thesis project to summarize my conclusions to all the inventory, analysis, and synthesis done in this Off Campus Program here in the city of Buffalo, New York.  As a reminder, my primary topic of study is the Sustainable Tourism of Niagara Falls and its Influence to the Urban Fabric of the local communities like that of Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Particularly focusing and having the interest in the spatial configurations of The Falls located in the border of Canada and the U.S. while trying to figure out the impacts and influences they have in the local communities. My study question is: What is the influence of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the surrounding community of Buffalo, NY?

Early in the project, I noticed week after week that I was digressing from my study question and focusing on another topic. I stopped myself and reminded myself that this study needs to be observational through the landscape. As a result I started outlining how I am going to present this project because I thought it would help guide me back on track; and so the outlining of my design thesis project began. I came up with two different ideas for my design thesis project. The past 5th year seniors that I’ve spoken to had created a poster with some graphic representations and much text. For my design thesis project, I plan to not have much text at all. My first idea was to outline a different design thesis project and thought of developing a flip booklet. This booklet will be much of how my portfolio looks like, in which every sub question and study question will have its’ own page. I plan on having 85% graphic representation (mostly taken out of my project notebook) and the remainder 15% text (captions, titles, etc.)

Secondly, I was thinking of having a bi-fold graphic reproduction that will almost act as a poster inside a booklet. Once again, every sub question will have some sort of graphic representation to answer the study with minimum text. The design thesis project will contain many figure grounds, graphs, re-orienting relationships, and most importantly the answer to my study question. 

- Edward L