Funded in part by ‘Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,’ federal grant continues efforts to improve public waterfront access
Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $4.5 million awarded to the City of Buffalo by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Awarded through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, the grant will support shoreline resiliency and improve public waterfront access at Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park.
“Buffalo is home to a beautiful Great Lakes waterfront,” Higgins said. “We’ve worked hard to dedicate targeted funding that increases public access to the waterfront by investing in both the health of our Great Lakes and its habitats, as well as the infrastructure that protects the shoreline. This investment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, funded in part by the ‘Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,’ builds on efforts to reimagine the Buffalo waterfront, while protecting the Lake Erie shoreline from harsh weather patterns.”
Higgins’ team said, “Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park, formerly known as LaSalle Park, is situated along the eastern shore of Lake Erie. As weather patterns intensify along the lake, there is frequent flooding, erosion and habitat degradation.
“Grant funding provided by the 2022 National Coastal Resilience Fund will allow the City of Buffalo to remove shoreline armoring and soften the shorelines to create coastal habitats along the lake. Overall, the project will improve habitat and ecosystem functions to reduce the impact of flooding and erosion, protect residential and park infrastructure, and increase public waterfront access.”
This year, the National Coastal Resilience Fund has invested more than $144 million in 96 coastal resilience projects across the U.S. In November alone, it invested $136 million across 29 states and territories. In total, the grants will leverage more than $97 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of $241 million.
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park was selected from 455 proposals nationwide.
This $4.5 million in funding awarded by the National Coastal Resilience Fund builds on more than $35 million in previous federal investments, supported by Higgins, in and around Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park. An additional $1.056 million in federal funding, previously provided through NOAA in 2020, supported design and engineering work for shoreline resiliency and aqua aquatic habitat restoration at the park. In 2021, Higgins helped secure $13.5 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District to support infrastructure work on the Buffalo Harbor breakwater. In 2022, he joined USACE Buffalo and the City of Buffalo to announce the completion of a $10.6 million new seawall project at Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park designed to withstand the forces of Lake Erie and local weather. Most recently, $10 million in Great Lakes Restoration Funding (GLRI) for habitat restoration and other work was recommended by NOAA for the Centennial Park project, due to its proximity along the Niagara area of concern.