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Results of second Outer Harbor public input survey now available

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Tue, Mar 5th 2019 04:15 pm

Survey results will help inform ECHDC’s efforts; preferred option for Outer Harbor will be presented in May

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. on Tuesday released the results of its Outer Harbor access and activation project survey No. 2. The qualitative survey, which was conducted both online and in-person, was part of the agency’s second community meeting and sought public input on three options each for First Buffalo River Marina, Wilkeson Pointe to the bell slip, and Terminal B. The chosen projects, which will be funded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion II, is set to enhance access and facilitate greater public use and enjoyment of 150 acres on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.

View results of the survey here. Click here for a map of areas that will see improvements.

Results of the survey reinforced the results of survey No. 1, which was conducted last summer, and will help inform the development of the preferred option, which will be presented at a third open house in May. Overall, respondents felt the best use of the Outer Harbor includes passive recreation (walking trails, wildlife viewing, fishing, etc.), waterfront access and biking.

Respondents favor a plan for the First Buffalo River Marina that features walking trails, ecological areas, living shoreline and amenities on the Connecting Terminal Grain Elevator, such as a viewing platform. Commonly mentioned themes include natural landscape/less development, more amenities in the Connecting Terminal area, and a restaurant on site.

Respondents favor a plan for Wilkeson Pointe to the bell slip that featured a new kayak launch, paths through Cottonwood Copse and pedestrian bridges. Respondents did not favor transient docking, glamping facilities or an adventure playground. Elements that were common across all three options for Wilkeson Pointe to bell slip include regenerative landscape, expanded trail and walkway network, and small-scale food service options.

Respondents favor a plan for Terminal B that features continuation of the Greenway Trail along the water’s edge and observation decks or walkway for views of Lake Erie. Respondents did not favor a BMX course or a ropes course. Respondents would like to see reuse of the existing building and outdoor entertainment.

In addition, overall, the survey respondents said they were happy with ECHDC’s public process and the future of the Outer Harbor.

The survey, conducted by Bergmann, was available online from Nov. 19 to Dec. 24. There were 221 respondents to the online survey. The survey was also available at a Nov. 19 open house held at the Lexus Club at KeyBank Arena in Buffalo. The gender of respondents was skewed slightly more to males over females, and a broad range of age groups was represented. Nearly half of respondents reported they live in the City of Buffalo, while the remainder reported living in the surrounding cities, towns and villages. This confirmed the Outer Harbor is currently a regional asset and not a huge tourist attraction.

The three project areas being discussed make up nearly all 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 two and three 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

The next public meeting will be in May to present the master plan for the Outer Harbor. For more information, visit https://outerharborbuffalo.com/accessandactivation/.

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