Higgins Announces Opening of Waterfront Access At Coast Guard Site
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, members of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association and leaders from Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to celebrate new public access to the waterfront adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Buffalo Sector property and historic Buffalo Lighthouse.
“We saw a breakthrough summer on Buffalo’s waterfront with the public coming out in droves to take in the exciting progress along the water’s edge, releasing decades of pent up demand for access,” said Congressman Higgins. “This new space adds to the transformation, which provides another public destination that is uniquely Buffalo.”
Congressman Higgins secured $6.1 million for the Coast Guard consolidation project in 2008 working in conjunction with then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Phase I of the project, costing $3.8 million, incorporates enhancements to provide park benches, improvements to the existing brick walking path, lighting, and decorative security fencing.
"The Coast Guard welcomes the completion of this first phase of the project, and seeing the Buffalo Lighthouse become more accessible to the community," stated Captain Steve Wischmann, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Buffalo.
Work at the site was completed by Iroquois Bar Corp., based in Lackawanna, NY in conjunction with Union Concrete and Construction Corp. of West Seneca, Scrufari Construction Company out of Niagara Falls and Beardsley Design Associates, Inc. of Syracuse. Iroquois Bar was awarded the contract through the Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Business development program, created to help small businesses compete in the marketplace and gain access to federal and private contracts.
The project, which began in the spring of 2011, is completed in advance of the National Preservation Conference to be held in Buffalo October 19-22. One of the main features of the site is the historic Buffalo Lighthouse, which has had limited public access due to post-9/11 security requirements.
Tom Johnston, President of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association added, "We are so happy to be part of the rebirth of the Buffalo waterfront. This beacon of hope for so many who settled our country becomes a light for the future."
Built in 1833, the Buffalo Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Restoration, including masonry repair and stonework, was recently completed on the Lighthouse thanks to $170,700 in New York Power Authority relicensing agreement funds secured by Higgins and awarded by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.
“The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is pleased to have been able to play a role in preparing this site for public use,” said ECHDC Board member and Outer Harbor Steering Committee Chairman David J. Colligan. “The Buffalo Lighthouse has been emblematic of Buffalo since the 19th century, and we salute the efforts of Congressman Higgins to ensure that it will maintain its honored place throughout the 21st.”
This is the latest in a series of Outer Harbor improvements. Last fall work was completed on the Outer Harbor Parkway which begins at the entrance to the Coast Guard site. Projects currently underway along the Parkway include a boardwalk at Times Beach, a pavilion at Gallagher Beach, and numerous park and fishing features at Union Ship Canal.
Higgins is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security which has jurisdiction over Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sector Buffalo provides search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, marine safety and security, aids-to-navigation, recreational boating safety, marine environmental response, and ice operations services to the public. Its area of responsibility includes Lake Erie from Lorain, Ohio to Buffalo, New York, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, the Erie Canal, and the St. Lawrence Seaway to Massena, New York.