Higgins, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., and NYPA to provide update
This week marks the annual tradition of removing the ice boom from the Niagara River, a sign of spring, but this year also a sign of progress for Buffalo's waterfront. An agreement in the New York Power Authority relicensing settlement provided a new home for the ice boom, formerly stored on Buffalo's Outer Harbor, which has resulted in two new public waterfront parks.
"With relocation of the ice boom, we have triggered a positive wave of development on Buffalo's waterfront, and these changes will bring even more opportunities along the Buffalo River and Outer Harbor," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "Couple these two projects with the transformation at Canalside and the number of other projects along the Buffalo Outer Harbor Parkway, and you see the evolution of Buffalo's new exciting waterfront identity. We appreciate the governor and NYPA's partnership and commend them for their commitment to these efforts."
"It's very clear, since taking office, Gov. Cuomo has targeted the revitalization of the Buffalo and Western New York economies as a top priority that will contribute to the overall strength and vitality of New York state," said Erie Canal Harbor Development Chairman Robert Gioia.
"We recognize the importance and significance of the Buffalo waterfront in the ongoing effort to revitalize the region's economy," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "We look forward to working further alongside Congressman Higgins and others to continue to advance economic development in the region and bring about other benefits that the public can enjoy."
Relocating the Ice Boom
Under the 2006 federal relicensing settlement deal with Buffalo and Erie County, and at the urging of Higgins, NYPA committed to moving the ice boom storage location from Outer Harbor land along Fuhrmann Boulevard to a new site. After reviewing several locations, NYPA chose a site on Hamburg Street. Along with relocation, NYPA agreed to convert a portion of the new storage site, which was previously a truck repair and dispatch yard, into a beautiful new park along the Buffalo River.
Mutual Riverfront Park
Today, Mutual Riverfront Park serves as the summer home for the ice boom and a public riverfront destination. NYPA invested nearly $24 million into the project, which features a 1.3-acre park, with a boardwalk, benches, beautiful landscaping, and a boat launch. The park, which complements the new Buffalo Riverfest Park, was first opened to the public last summer.
A New Outer Harbor Park
Movement of the storage site freed up the Outer Harbor land for new uses. In June of 2011, the Erie Canal harbor development board approved the transfer of the land from NYPA to ECHDC for $1. Last fall, ECHDC began construction of a new park on 21 acres of property comprised of the former ice boom land and adjacent land formerly owned by Cargill. Construction is now under way on this $3.3 million project featuring a gazebo, wind sculptures, volleyball courts, shoreline stabilization, pedestrian trails and a comfort station. The work is funded with NYPA relicensing agreement proceeds and is scheduled to open in late May.
About the Ice Boom
Each December since the mid-1960s, the ice boom, comprised of several connected pontoons stretching 8,800 feet long, is extended across the Niagara River at Lake Erie to reduce the flow of ice and allow for water flow and energy generation into the Niagara Power Project in New York and the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station in Ontario. The boom, jointly owned by NYPA and the Ontario Power Generation, is removed each spring.
The Niagara River ice boom, including this week's removal process, can be seen through a live camera at: http://www.iceboom.nypa.gov/.