Outer Harbor

Published on July 11th, 2014 | by GrowWNYAdmin


Pre-Planning for the Outer Harbor


In April, it was announced that New York State was moving forward with plans to redevelop about 160 acres of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. The past two days (July 9th and 10th) played host to the first round of public engagement planning workshops for this mixed-use development project. Held by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and its appointed planning agency, Perkins+Will, the meeting incorporated many outlets for citizens to contribute feedback to the pre-planning process.

I was able to attend the first workshop on July 9th at WNED Studios, which boasted a great turn out of nearly 300 participants. The crowds huddled around many different kiosks that described the guiding principles and existing site conditions, case studies of other waterfront uses in other cities, and some potential uses for the Outer Harbor. There were tables of Post-it notes and pens so community members could leave comments on any of the displays around the room. For the section of potential uses, citizens were also given green dots to “vote” on their preferred set of uses and/or vision for the Outer Harbor.

Another large component of the feedback process was the implementation of a ”Planning Game.” This took a map of the Outer Harbor that spanned an entire table, and provided “game tokens” that represented different development ideas, such as a stadium with parking, nature trails, or a ferris wheel. Participants had to pick and choose which tokens they would use and where within the limitations of the available space for development. Each game board was captured for further analysis by the Perkins+Will team.

Lastly, citizens could step into a spot light and record their comments in front of a camera. Many people were in line to describe their vision for the Outer Harbor, and explain why this place is so special to our community.

If you weren’t able to attend on Wednesday or Thursday, there is still one more opportunity! Attend the last pre-planning meeting tomorrow, Saturday, July 12 at 9 am at the Old First Ward Community Center. You can also email any questions or ideas to the planners using this email address: OuterHarborInfo@esd.ny.gov

This is only the first round of public meetings on the Outer Harbor. There will be follow-up meetings in August and September to give the community an update on the planning process, with more opportunities to submit your feedback.

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One Response to Pre-Planning for the Outer Harbor

  1. Art Klein says:

    I have attended various meetings concerning harbor development for over 20 years and I am intrigued by the feeling of being herded into various penstocks of special interests by various proponents.

    I have worked in and on the Buffalo harbor since the 1960’s and often lamented its various stages of some promise then witnessed good intentions crumbling into surface rubble and foundation outlines.

    Sometimes I think it is a curse developed by the sturgeon whose habitat we destroyed to build that platform from Times Beach to the Bell Slip.

    Many of us travel to Erie Pennsylvania to recreate on Presque Isle which is the ultimate natural transition of a Great Lakes City to the lake. The place is an incredible treasure. Then on returning home we pass that vast wasteland that is Western New York’s own remaining connection to the lake. Bethlehem Steel is the southern flank and the I-190 our northern prevention to any immediate lake connection.

    We nearly had a chance for a general public access to the lake when the Erie Basin development took place but “Security,” was cited as a reason for denying a public greenway between the lake and the housing. Naturally “security,” in this sense means “exclusivity.” The tax paying people who paid to clean up a lake get Front Park and a couple of beaches south of Buffalo and the wealthy have exclusive access at Buffalo.

    So the outer harbor remains the sole physical connection to what Olmstead considered the Solace of Nature, in this case Lake Erie.

    But I see these steered meetings with their checklist type information sharing and I see a failed past probably being reemployed. I cannot imagine why but betimes I suspect some people involved in this have ideas about that outer harbor that could conceivably mask Private Eleemosynary motives rather than the Public Good.

    Why cannot the proponents develop a good solid Public Interest Review, scope the various alternatives then have some honest nitty gritty public meetings to winnow out the husks and get to the kernels of a project that can provide the most benefit for the longest time to the most people?

    The time an opportunity are with us. Let us have our Lake Erie Olmstead Park and give Buffalo compensation for our separation?

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