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ECHDC board meets and approves items for Buffalo's waterfront


Mon, Mar 11th 2024 03:00 pm

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. board of directors met Monday and approved a number of measures to promote Buffalo’s waterfront and the Erie Canal bicentennial, continue to advance ECHDC’s projects on the waterfront, and protect ECHDC’s assets.

A press release noted, “ECHDC is currently planning celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal in Buffalo, which is the birthplace of this historic and game-changing waterway. While the canal’s 200th anniversary will likely be a focus of celebrations throughout New York state, ECHDC is organizing a summerlong celebration at Buffalo’s Canalside from May to September 2025. Canalside will also host the World Canals Conference from Sept. 21-25, an event first announced by Gov. Hochul in June 2022, that will bring together canal and inland waterway enthusiasts, professionals and scholars from around the world to learn about a variety of canal-related topics.”

To gear up for Canalside’s bicentennial celebration, the ECHDC board authorized ECHDC to hire Crowley Webb, a Buffalo-based advertising agency, to assist in a marketing and promotion campaign. Crowley Webb will develop a brand strategy for the bicentennial, create a schedule for implementing the marketing campaign, and identify strategic advertising and event sponsorship opportunities. It will also be tasked to create a bicentennial website and upgrade the current Buffalo Waterfront website. Crowley Webb’s team also includes Hadley Exhibits, Tilloston Design Lighting, Zenith Systems, My Active Driveway and Loyal Kaspar. The contract is not to exceed $625,000 with a contract term of April 1, 2024, through March 31, 2027.

“The excitement keeps building on Buffalo’s waterfront and, with the Erie Canal bicentennial celebration fast approaching, we want everything to be perfect for the families, friends and out-of-town visitors who will be joining in all of the festivities,” ECHDC Chairwoman Joan Kesner said. “This anniversary also allows us to highlight the steadfast work of Gov. Hochul and the ECHDC board in bringing exciting projects to Buffalo’s inner and outer harbors, and to acknowledge the Erie Canal’s important role as the first navigable waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes and beyond.”

In other actions, the ECHDC board:

√ Found the Marine Drive Apartments Redevelopment project is consistent with the design guidelines established by ECHDC as part of the master general project plan for Canalside. The project was formally reviewed by the Canalside design review committee to determine consistency, and reviewed by the City of Buffalo Planning Board.

√ Authorized ECHDC to enter into a $1.925 million, five-year contract with 716 Security & Investigations for asset protection and “to ensure public safety at the Inner and Outer harbors,” ECHDC stated. “This service will provide on-premises monitoring and deterrence to property damage and theft, as well as continue to build public confidence in utilizing spaces and trail systems on the Outer Harbor and Canalside.” The scope of services includes security, as well as video surveillance, intrusion alarm, access and gate installation.

√ Authorized a contract extension with TY Lin International for architectural and engineering design services at the North Aud Block. The $204,349 amendment, which brings the contract total to $1.76 million, is for unforeseen conditions and modifications that have required additional services from TY Lin during construction of a three-story building in the southwest corner of the North Aud Block, which will provide public amenities and office space.

√ Authorized ECHDC to grant an approximately 2,000-square-foot easement on the Outer Harbor to the Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. for electrical utility equipment. The Bell Slip area is currently under construction to reorganize the existing parking surface, provide a comfort area including restrooms, and enhance landscaping, “which together will provide a sense of place.” These upgrades to the Bell Slip area require improvised utility infrastructure. A new electric transformer will be installed by Niagara Mohawk Power to address the required service needed for the completed project.

√ Approved ECHDC’s $67,878,046 capital and $1,393,940 operating budgets for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

Funding for these contracts is from the New York Power Authority, through relicensing agreements tied to the operation of the Niagara Power Project.

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 New York state governor and are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corp. (dba Empire State Development) as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The two non-voting, 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.

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