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New York state's largest marina set to receive transformation

by jmaloni


Mon, Feb 9th 2015 11:55 am

New marina operator selected at Buffalo Harbor State Park

Expected to invest $10 million in marina improvements and construct new full-service restaurant

Plans to upgrade slips, electrical and water service, lighting, dining facilities and other amenities at the marina at Buffalo Harbor State Park are one step closer as a new operator has been selected, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced today. ECHDC and State Parks selected Safe Harbor Development as the new operator that will focus on transforming the marina into a modern destination at Buffalo Harbor.

The announcement of Safe Harbor Development as the operator came at a board of directors meeting of the ECHDC, which will ultimately sign the lease and maintain ownership of the property. State Parks will operate and maintain the new 200-acre state park.

"ECHDC recognizes the importance that this marina plays in Gov. Cuomo's vision for establishing the new, first-class Buffalo Harbor State Park and continuing to improve our Outer Harbor," said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia. "The proposal submitted by Safe Harbor demonstrated a wide range of experience in operating marinas and provided the best blend of competence and financial ability to create a quality destination for both boaters and visitors."

"Upgrading the marina at Buffalo Harbor State Park is just one step in transforming the Buffalo waterfront into a dynamic and re-energized destination for visitors to enjoy," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "The improvements coming to the marina, combined with restoration of our beautiful greenspace, including a new playground, picnic pavilions, stage area and a fish cleaning station, is providing visitors a quality-of-life staple in Buffalo."

"Safe Harbor Development is committed to improving the marina at Buffalo Harbor State Park and, in the process, Buffalo's revitalized waterfront," Safe Harbor Development LLC Owner Darby Campbell said. "We have a winning track record that builds on successful public-private partnerships to create a quality destination that combines marinas with restaurants and other activities. Thanks to the many successful initiatives launched by Gov. Cuomo, I personally am thrilled to build on Buffalo's resurgence to make Buffalo Harbor State Park the place to be."

Under terms of the proposed lease, Safe Harbor will oversee the 1,037-slip marina, 8,000-square-foot restaurant and administration building, 214 parking spaces, bait shop and storage facilities at the park. It is anticipated Safe Harbor Development will assume operations at the marina in April. State Parks will oversee slip rentals and operations until a final lease is approved with the company.

Existing slip holders will receive their agreements within the next 10 days. Those interested in a slip for the 2015 boating season can call 716-828-0027 to be placed on a waiting list. As marina improvements are made over the next several years, modest increased slip fees, including a 7-percent rise in 2015, will transform the marina into a first-rate destination for boaters and visitors alike.

Safe Harbor Development Corp. currently operates marinas, restaurants, RV parks, entertainment facilities and housing developments throughout Tennessee. Along with operations of the marina, Safe Harbor will oversee the parking lots related to the marina and several buildings on the property.

Safe Harbor's proposed capital plan includes, among other features, dock replacement, slip layout redesign and the expected construction of a new full-service restaurant on site. In total, Safe Harbor's capital plan includes an approximately $10 million commitment in the first five years of operation.

Buffalo Harbor State Park, the first state park in the City of Buffalo, was designated as a state park by Cuomo in September 2013. In addition to the upgrades at the marina, work is currently underway to create a nautically themed destination playground, picnic pavilions, new walking and bike paths, upgraded utilities and landscaping that will provide better site topography and screening of the parking areas.

State Parks oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found New York parks generate $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and support 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.

ECHDC is governed by a nine-member board consisting of seven voting directors and two non-voting, ex-officio directors. The seven voting directors are recommended by the governor and are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corp. (d/b/a Empire State Development) as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The two nonvoting, ex-officio director positions are held by the Erie County executive and the City of Buffalo mayor.

As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state's chief economic development agency, ECHDC supports and promotes the creation of infrastructure and public activities at Canalside, the Ohio Street corridor and the Outer Harbor. Its vision is to revitalize Western New York's waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo based on the region's legacy of pride, urban significance and natural beauty.

For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.

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