Options for passive and active improvements presented to public; interested individuals can make their voice heard by filling out online survey
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. held its second open house for the Outer Harbor Access and Activation Project. ECHDC presented three options for First Buffalo River Marina, Wilkeson Pointe to the bell slip, and terminal B. Attendees had an opportunity to comment on the options, provide feedback, and respond to a survey. The projects, funded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Buffalo Billion II, will enhance access and facilitate greater public use and enjoyment of Buffalo's Outer Harbor.
"We want the voices of Buffalo and Western New York to be heard as we make plans for our Outer Harbor," ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia said. "The options presented today build upon and complement recent state investments in Buffalo Harbor State Park and the Queen City Bike Ferry, as well as the cycling and pedestrian trails, overlooks and Great Lawn now under construction on the Outer Harbor. Please tell us what options you prefer on the Outer Harbor, from active to passive recreational uses, and the project plans will be finalized in the spring."
for a map of areas that will see improvements. For those who were not able to attend the open house at the Lexus Club inside the KeyBank Center, an online version of the survey is available HERE.
The three project areas being discussed make up nearly all of ECHDC's property on the Outer Harbor. The project areas include:
Northern Site: First Buffalo River Marina
- 15 acres
- Enhance public access
- Maintain 115-slip marina
- Enhance Queen City Bike Ferry access
- Identify potential adaptive reuses of the Connecting Terminal grain elevator
- Consider long-term development potential
Central Site: Wilkeson Pointe to Bell Slip
- Nearly 150 acres
- Includes Michigan Pier and Wilkeson Pointe
- Includes Slips 2 and 3 and Bell Slip
- Consider improvements that will enhance access and visitor experience
- Discuss natural community habitats
Southern Site: Terminal B
- 15 acres
- Approximately 96,000 square foot one story building
- Program study for metal frame building
- Identify uses most appropriate for the site
- Proximate to exterior events lawn, currently under construction
These three projects area being planned, programmed and studied together so there is a comprehensive and coordinated capital plan at the end of the process. Three options will be presented for each of the three project areas. Each option presents a varying level of intensity and/or location of the elements. For example, highlighting industrial heritage opportunities could include grain elevator interpretive stations, to terminal B reuse schemes to a rooftop restaurant. Adding more access to the water could include adding fishing platforms, kayak and windsurfing amenities or landside beaches and pools.
The first of three public meetings took place Wednesday, July 11. At that time, the public was invited to respond to a survey and provide feedback that informed the results that were presented. A third open house will be scheduled for February 2019. ECHDC will present its preferred option and implementation projects at that time and then those projects will be recommended to the ECHDC board of directors.
Under Cuomo's leadership, New York is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. In 2013, almost 400 acres of land on the Outer Harbor was transferred from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to New York. As part of that transfer, Buffalo Harbor State Park was designated as the 180th state park in New York's system and the first in the City of Buffalo. Buffalo Billion I committed $10 million for improvements to transform Buffalo Harbor State Park into a new visitor destination that continues the revitalization of the city's waterfront. Buffalo Billion I also committed $5 million for a project, now under construction, that will enhance access and facilitate greater public use/enjoyment of 20-acres at the southern end of the Outer Harbor. The project includes a completed multi-use greenbelt trail, including pedestrian and bicycle amenities; two overlook locations; an urban bike park with skills features and off-road trails; an events lawn for passive and active recreational purposes; and three habitat restoration areas. That project is slated to be completed by May 2019. Buffalo Billion II commits $15 million for the three projects on the Outer Harbor now in planning.
"We've seen great progress in recent years creating a series of parks and public destinations along the Outer Harbor," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "This public input provides valuable feedback as we work to continue the momentum creating the waterfront Western New York deserves."
"Our Outer Harbor has become a true waterfront asset, and it's only getting better, so I'm pleased the long-term planning process includes public input, to ensure future development reflects the needs and desires of those who use it," Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said. "The existing active and passive recreational venues are attracting an increasing number of visitors to our beautiful urban waterfront, and we need to build on that success through thoughtful planning that reaches our entire community."
"Public participation has been critical to the tremendous success we have experienced with the redevelopment and revitalization of our region's waterfront, and the same will be true as we turn our attention to the Outer Harbor " New York State Sen. Chris Jacobs said. "I want to thank everyone attending today's open house on the planned improvements for First River Buffalo Marina, Wilkeson Point to the bell slip and terminal B, and I encourage all interested parties to take advantage of the online survey so their voices can be heard on the future of the Outer Harbor."
"As efforts to enhance accessibility and experiences at Buffalo's Outer Harbor continue, it is critical that the public's feedback is incorporated into these projects," New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said. "Monday's open house was designed to be an opportunity for community engagement, and I encourage anyone who was unable to attend to share their thoughts through the online survey."
"Over the past decade, the Outer Harbor has transformed into one of our region's greatest assets," Assemblyman Sean Ryan said. "The projects proposed by ECHDC mark the next step in turning the Outer Harbor into an even better destination for residents and visitors to enjoy our waterfront. The community is a key stakeholder in the development of our waterfront, and I applaud ECHDC for holding community meetings that allow everyone to participate in the waterfront development process."