Higgins Responds to Thruway Authority’s False Assertion of Money Spent on Buffalo’s Waterfront
Buffalo, NY—Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) today responded to the statement made by NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer in this morning’s Buffalo News. Fleischer stated that, “I notice the congressman did not include $15 million for the Buffalo inner harbor,” in the list of non-Thruway spending which Higgins conveyed to Fleischer in a letter sent on Monday.
“I did not address the concern of the $15 million for the Inner Harbor because the Thruway Authority’s failure to live up to its obligations to the people of Buffalo and Western New York with regard to Waterfront development has been so egregious as to deserve separate treatment and a separate inquiry,” said Higgins.
“We in Western New York were sold on the continuation of the tolls with bold promises that excess toll revenue would be used for all kinds of major waterfront development projects here,” added Higgins. “Those promises were minimized down to a $15 million commitment in 1992 legislation. That commitment was further pared down to $11.7 million in 1996. The Thruway Authority did not start spending any real money on this project until 1999. What money they did spend from 1999 until the end of 2004 went presumably to pay for the well documented blunderings of Empire State Development with regard to Inner Harbor Development in Buffalo.”
Higgins continued, “To add insult to injury, the Thruway Authority went so far as to demand that they must approve any Inner Harbor plans before money could be spent, and that the City of Buffalo provide them with a portion of any slip rental fees earned at the Inner Harbor, in perpetuity, as a condition of their providing funding to Empire State Development for this project (as if they were not already obligated to fund this project by law).”
In response to Fleischer’s statement, Higgins sent a letter detailing the Thruway Authority’s record of broken promises to Buffalo and Western New York.