Goal to connect residents with nature, increase opportunities for recreation
√ $2 million project celebrates grand opening after 5 months of construction
Empire State Development, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper on Tuesday celebrated the grand opening of the $2 million renovated Buffalo Blueway site, DEC’s Buffalo River – Ohio Street fishing access site. The ESD-funded project, completed by BNW, adds to the network of public access points along the city’s waterways as part of the Buffalo Blueway project, a regional effort to improve and enhance waterfront access and opportunities for recreation.
The newly expanded and enhanced DEC-owned site at Ohio Street will enable better access to paddling, car-top boats, fishing and passive recreation along the Buffalo River waterfront. The construction project, which was completed in five months by BNW and its contractor, Scott Lawn Yard, includes the following enhancements:
√ Car-top Boat Launch: Improved boat launch features carry-in, car-top fishing boat access and paddle craft launching with timber guiderails.
√ Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Pier: Pedestrian promenade/walkway and fixed pier overlook platform provides universal access to the river.
√ North Path: Now provides pedestrian connections to Ohio Street and the Shoreline Trail while evoking the former rail line.
√ Debris Deflection: Two newly installed floating deflectors will help mitigate wave forces and deflect floating debris and flowing ice away from the shoreline and boat launch.
√ Central Dropoff: New vehicular and pedestrian traffic pattern allows for more efficient launching.
√ Parking: Upgrades to parking area pavements and pathways allow for improved public access.
“This new Buffalo Blueway site improves equitable access to Western New York’s greatest asset – its waterfront – and I want to thank Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for their continued leadership and partnership to get these projects completed, as well as the state DEC for its collaboration on this Ohio Street site,” said Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis. “This is just the latest example of how Buffalo Blueway public access projects are increasing recreation and tourism to the area while enhancing the region’s waterfront.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is excited to reopen the Buffalo River – Ohio Street fishing access site today to further enhance the newly revitalized Buffalo River corridor. Once an abandoned railroad property, this now popular recreational spot now draws anglers and outdoors enthusiasts of all ages. Working with our project partners, DEC is pleased to announce today our latest efforts to improve access to the river for anglers, boaters and kayakers, and restore shoreline habitat for fish and wildlife.”
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka said, “Our vision for the Buffalo Blueway is becoming a reality, with enhanced public access for everyone to enjoy their waterfront and the Buffalo River. For the first three decades of our existence, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper worked tirelessly to lead the cleanup partnership efforts that resulted in a once-dead Buffalo River becoming a thriving, vibrant ecosystem that is now being activated with recreational activity from locals and tourists alike. Supporting the growth of the region’s sustainable blue economy continues to be a goal of our ongoing environmental restoration work, and by offering universal access to our waterways through the Blueway system, these kinds of projects will continue to accelerate economic activity for our entire waterfront.”
Design partners on the project include Anchor QEA, Watts Engineering and Edgewater Resources.
In January 2017, New York state announced a $10 million award to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper in an effort to expand and enhance waterfront access. This investment – the Buffalo Blueway – connects a network of public access points located strategically near existing sites and attractions along Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Buffalo River corridors to increase recreation and tourism and spur private development. In 2019, major site enhancements were implemented at Buffalo RiverWorks, Wilkeson Pointe and Mutual Riverfront Park. The site enhancements include a massive public art mural at Buffalo RiverWorks, along with Blueway-specific metal markers and interpretive and safety signage at the three sites. Now that the Ohio Street site is complete, BNW’s next Buffalo Blueway construction project will be improvements at Red Jacket Riverfront Natural Habitat Park in Erie County. BNW is also in the design phase with another Erie County park, Seneca Bluffs, as a Buffalo Blueway site. Construction will begin at Seneca Bluffs next year.
New York State Sen. Sean Ryan said, “The Buffalo Blueway project has been a boon to our continuing efforts to make Buffalo’s waterfront more accessible to the residents of Western New York. By improving public access to the Buffalo River, the enhancements at the Ohio Street site will help highlight our area’s exemplary fishing and promote economic growth along the city’s waterfront.”
Assembly member Jon D. Rivera said, “The new and improved Buffalo River access point at Ohio Street – part of the Buffalo Blueway project – will allow residents of all ages greater accessibility and expanded usage of the city’s most treasured asset. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has worked relentlessly to restore the natural ecosystems of our waterways, and in doing so, has invaluably added to our region’s ecotourism sector. As the Blueway system continues to provide increased access to Buffalo’s waterfront, our city’s economy and its environmental sustainability are set to reap the benefits.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The Buffalo River waterfront is taking a big step forward with the completion of the Buffalo Blueway public access project on Ohio Street, which improves accessibility for fishing, kayaking and other types of waterfront recreation. Completed in just five months, this project will add to the area’s vitality for years to come.”
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “Activity on Buffalo’s waterways is now a common sight and I thank Empire State Development, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for adding to the network of public access points as part of the Buffalo Blueway Project. This $2 million investment at the DEC-owned site at Ohio Street complements an $11 million investment that transformed this roadway into a riverfront parkway. It's also great news for paddlers, anglers and others, and another positive example of why investing in our environmental and recreational assets will help spur additional economic development.”