After years of neglect, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations has the full attention of New York State.
That means $25 million in much-needed improvements to Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest in the nation. It also signals, officials said, a return to the principles of Frederick Law Olmsted -- who designed the park -- and a pledge to never let it become neglected again.
The new railings, repaved paths, restored plantings and repaired bridges come one year after the park was criticized by a New York Times travel writer and a nonprofit agency for its lack of maintenance and worn-out appearance.
"Niagara Falls can't look shabby," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said Tuesday at a news conference in the park. "It's the most visible park in our state system, it's the most popular, and we needed to address this issue."
The state has responded to the criticism with an ambitious, detailed landscape plan to begin in the fall. Some of the improvements, worth $16 million, will begin then, while the other $9 million in upgrades will come when more funding is secured.