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Higgins, Ryan endorse Riverkeeper plan for Buffalo's Outer Harbor

by jmaloni

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Fri, Oct 3rd 2014 08:20 pm
Pictured, from left: Sean Ryan, Brian Higgins and Jill Jedlicka.
Pictured, from left: Sean Ryan, Brian Higgins and Jill Jedlicka.

Vision promotes infrastructure improvements and public access

Congressman Brian Higgins and New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan announced they are endorsing a plan for the development of Buffalo's Outer Harbor that was created by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. The Riverkeeper plan focuses on preserving and enhancing recreational greenspace, improving public access to the water and water's edge, and concentrates development at the vacant terminals A and B.

"We don't need another city at the Outer Harbor, we have a great city," Higgins said. "The Outer Harbor stands as Buffalo's front lawn to the Great Lakes. We can't lose sight of what is most important at the Outer Harbor: the water. Let's focus on making it easy for people to get to the water and enjoy the water. That type of thinking preserves the waterfront access this community has been craving for decades and encourages development to come more organically."

Ryan said, "When it comes to planning Buffalo's Outer Harbor, we have to have a plan for the future that the community supports. The current plan being put forward by the ECHDC does not have broad support, and would not create the Outer Harbor that Buffalo and Western New York has been longing for. Development should be concentrated at terminals A and B, where there is already existing infrastructure. The emphasis should be on public access and creating spaces that everyone can enjoy, and that is what the Riverkeeper plan emphasizes. We owe it to future generations to get this right. We must create an Outer Harbor that everyone can be proud of." 

"Riverkeeper's alternative vision is built from decades of community input, incorporates the best of the Perkins + Will plan, and is based on the fact that the protection of and access to our Great Lakes public trust resources does not have to be at odds with future economic development," said Jill Jedlicka, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper executive director. "The best outcome is one that is generated and guided by public sentiment. ... The planning solutions for a sustainable future for the City of Buffalo are well within our reach. The Outer Harbor, Times Beach and Lake Erie are too vulnerable and too important for our community to not get this right. We thank the congressman and assemblyman for their leadership and recognition of the intangible values of our fresh water systems."

The draft Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. plan has a heavy emphasis on creating new housing developments on the Outer Harbor. Since the draft ECHDC plan (designed by Perkins+Will) was released, Higgins and Ryan have heard from many constituents and those in the community who say it overemphasizes housing and new neighborhood development on the Outer Harbor.

In addition, the elected leaders said the development proposed by the draft ECHDC plan would have a negative impact on ecologically sensitive parts of Buffalo's Outer Harbor, including the Times Beach Nature Preserve and the Bell Slip. Higgins and Ryan urged the ECHDC to listen to the public's concerns and adopt the ideas the Riverkeeper plan is proposing.

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