Governor Announces Creation of New State Park in City of Buffalo

9:07 PM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Governor Announces Creation of New State Park in City of Buf

Gallagher Beach near Small Boat Harbor

BUFFALO, NY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Buffalo Thursday to announce a plan for reshaping Buffalo's Outer Harbor.

The plan includes the transfer of some 400 acres of land on the Outer Harbor from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to New York State. According to the plan, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) will acquire the land from the NFTA for future development, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) will operate half of the property, including the Small Boat Harbor and Gallagher Beach, as a new state park.

Two port terminals that are included in the area, but are not listed on the title, are expected to be sold or leased as part of the deal, according to a statement released by the governor's office following Thursday's press conference.

The NFTA will continue to operate the boat harbor for the remainder of the 2014 boating season.

"Buffalo is a beautiful lakefront city and the community deserves a world-class waterfront," Cuomo said. "Under this plan, we will take the first step of transforming Buffalo's waterfront to invite new investment and businesses, and build a high-quality state park and the City's first-ever public swimming beach to serve local residents and attract visitors alike."

The statement summarized today's announcement as follows:

  • ECHDC will take title of the Outer Harbor parcel remaining after the NFTA sells Terminals A and B. ECHDC will take title to the port terminals if for any reason the expected sale of the port terminals does not occur.
  • OPRHP will operate Gallagher Beach and the Small Boat Harbor as a new state park.
  • State Parks will take control of the Small Boat Harbor by May 2015. Until then, NFTA staff will operate under supervision of OPRHP.
  • OPRHP will operate Gallagher Beach, including exploring possibilities for creating a public swimming beach.
  • ECHDC will pay $1 for the property.
  • An advisory group will be established to review future development on the entire property.
  • New York State will be responsible for all capital improvement costs and operations and maintenance of the property.

In prepared remarks published in the same release, the following local leaders commented on the proposal:

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey: "A vibrant and accessible waterfront can transform a community's quality of life. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo and all of our partners for this creative plan to provide a tremendous new recreational resource for the city of Buffalo."

NFTA Chairman Howard Zemsky: "This is the best possible outcome we could have imagined. Parks will ensure continual public access to the boat harbor and Gallagher beach, and those were the NFTA's highest priorities. ECHDC specializes in waterfront planning/ development and NFTA specializes in transportation, this makes perfect sense. It couldn't have happened without the Governor's leadership and commitment to take public transit out of harm's way from future environmental remediation costs. He broke through the logjam of what has stymied outer harbor progress for decades."

ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia: "Following ECHDC's guiding principle of public access, we are thrilled with this opportunity to build off the success of Canalside and embark on a new challenge. We will be extending the opportunity for dialogue among government agencies, civic leaders, non profits, neighborhood organizations, local businesses and foundations before any decisions are made in order to ensure that Western New Yorkers determine the best options to revitalize and rebuild the Buffalo economy and its recreational space. This is an important step that needed to be taken to revive our waterfront."

Congressman Brian Higgins: "For nearly six decades a major portion of Buffalo's Outer Harbor has lacked significant investment and remained underutilized under the control of an authority whose main focus is and should be public transportation. Over the last ten years there have been proposals pushing for the transfer of NFTA property to the State Park system but never the State leadership to finish the job. Today Governor Cuomo once again demonstrates his deep understanding of what is important to Western New York and his distinct ability to get things done. This transfer holds the promise that Gallagher Beach and the Small Boat Harbor will finally receive the attention they deserve as the property is maintained under the high standards held by the New York State Park system. Under the new leadership of Governor Cuomo and NFTA Chairman Howard Zemsky the people of Western New York can reclaim their right to public access along the water's edge for generations to come."

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown: "This is another great day of progress in the continued transformation of Buffalo's waterfront. Governor Cuomo has played a key role in that transformation including today's announcement. I want to thank the Governor for his unwavering support of Buffalo and Western New York."

Senator Mark Grisanti: "As Senator of the 60th Senate district, which covers the waterfront from Grand Island to Brant, and includes Buffalo's inner and outer harbors, developing Buffalo's waterfront has been a top priority of mine. Buffalo has the largest undeveloped waterfront in the United States, and I applaud all parties involved working to make Buffalo's waterfront as successful as other major cities. I also look forward to the job creation that will come with the future development of Buffalo's waterfront."

Assemblyman Sean Ryan: "Today's news is another positive step forward for Buffalo's waterfront. Public access to the waterfront has been my top priority during this process, and the actions taken today will help to make that priority a reality. I thank Governor Cuomo for giving this issue the attention it deserves, and for focusing on the continued development of our waterfront. As the public process moves forward to determine the use for a significant portion of this land, public access to our waterfront should be the number one goal. Connecting the community to the water will be the key component of a great revitalization plan."

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