Congressman Higgins & Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Review 2011 Waterfront Progress, Preview Work Planned for 2012
With the 2011 construction season coming to a close, and additional big plans for next year, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined members of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to give a status report on waterfront development along Buffalo’s Inner Harbor, Outer Harbor and River.
“This has been a breakthrough year for waterfront development in Western New York,” said Higgins. “Progress is happening, the public is noticing and the excitement is continuing to build. By taking advantage of traits unique to this region – our Erie Canal history, natural waterways, and historic lighthouse - we are creating and one-of-a-kind destination drawing a critical mass needed for growth and opportunities moving forward.”
”The past year saw unprecedented activity on Buffalo’s waterfront” said ECHDC Chair Jordan Levy, “and I promise that it was only the beginning. Next year will see the construction of vital public infrastructure on the Aud Block, paving the way for future private investment, as well as a continuation of our successful programming, which drew 400,000 visitors to Canalside. We look forward to working with our great partner, Brian Higgins, to create the waterfront that Western New Yorkers deserve.
Progress in 2011
In 2011 visitors to Buffalo’s Commercial Slip enjoyed Buffalo’s first water taxi, the Queen City Water Ferry, an extended of the Central Wharf, sand and chair features, new amenities, including a food shack (Clinton’s Dish) and new shower and restroom facilities for boaters, in addition to greatly expanded programming. Also opening this year were brand new waterfront park destinations including: Buffalo Riverfest Park, Ship Canal Commons and the U.S. Coast Guard site.
While a great deal of work is happening on the land side, significant work is also taking place to protect and preserve the water itself for future generations. A brownfield cleanup effort at Union Ship Canal was recently completed, a federal project to dredge and restore the Buffalo River is underway, and another project to repair and rebuild underground water infrastructure is ongoing.
All of the “node” or pocket park projects linked to the new Outer Harbor Parkway are either under construction currently or slated for work next year. This includes: Union Ship Canal Promenade, Gallagher Beach Pavillion, Times Beach Boardwalk, Tift Street and Lake Kirsty Piers and the Industrial Heritage Trail.
Work Planned for 2012
Next year an additional $100 million in public and private investments will infuse the waterfront landscape. Chief among them is construction of historically aligned public canals at the site of the former Aud and the start of construction at the former Donovan Building site, a private development that will provide an additional $4 million in new funding to reinvest in the waterfront over the next 15 years.
In total over 2011 and 2012, a minimum of 24 projects totaling more than $168.6 million will take place along Buffalo’s waterfront.
Photos of some of the latest improvements along Buffalo’s waterfront are available in a Waterfront 2011 album at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/repbrianhiggins/.