News10NBC gets exclusive tour of the future High Falls State Park
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We want to take you to a part of the city where only a handful of people have ever been. It’s at the bottom of the gorge at High Falls, the site of the future High Falls State Park.
News10NBC got access to it on Wednesday.
Once I parked at the bottom of Falls Street and got through the RG&E gate, I walked about three to four hundred yards towards the falls with Mayor Malik Evans and Vinnie Esposito, the head of Empire State Development in Rochester.
"This is a spot right now, you’ve never been. Most people in Rochester have never been down here," Esposito said.
"I’ve lived here for more than 20 years. I’ve never walked on this path before," I said.
"I’m a lifelong Rochesterian," Mayor Evans said. "And I’ve been down here maybe once."
We walked past the ruins of the 20th-century power plants up to the ruins of the 19th-century flour mills.
Except for the roar of the falls and construction of a new Roc the Riverway trail on the other side of the gorge, it’s incredibly quiet.
The money is in place to do it.
The Pont du Reins bridge, which connects the High Falls district to the Genesee Brewery, will be redone in the project.
Click here for more photos of the future High Falls State Park.
We walked as close to the falls as we could.
Brean: "The view is going to be amazing."
Mayor: "Oh, unbelievable."
Vinnie: "Yeah, there are designs to have walks to go out over there and an overlook that gets pretty close to the falls from the ground level, the gorge level."
The designs include a ZIP line over the gorge.
Brean: "Now, the ZIP line. Everybody talks about the ZIP line, right?"
Mayor: "We got to do it."
Brean: "Looks like it starts somewhere over there and ends up right about here."
Vinnie: "Right about here."
Brean: "And you’ll be the first to do it."
Mayor: "I don’t know if I’ll be the first to do it because I was a banker and I used to assess risk. And you saw me go down with these geese. So I don’t know if I’ll be the one to do it but you better believe, that’s a postcard."
"Imagine in four years, five years. It’s going to be totally different," Mayor Evans said.
We want to be clear about one thing. The gorge at High Falls is not public property. You just can’t come down here. We had to work on getting access to get down into the gorge.
This is a phased project and about six different projects are going into it. Some will open before others, like the ZIP line.
The clean-up down here has to happen first before the full state park opens. The clean-up schedule ends around 2025 or 2026.
The last two state parks have been urban parks, one in Brooklyn and the other in Buffalo. High Falls will be the third.
If you have ideas and suggestions on what could go in the park, email ROCHighFallsPark@esd.ny.gov.