Published on September 30th, 2014 | by GrowWNYAdmin1
Saturday Times Beach Rally Draws a Crowd
BY: JAY BURNEY, FRIENDS OF TIMES BEACH NATURE PRESERVE
On Saturday September 27, 2014 about 75 people showed up at Times Beach Nature Preserve and Wilkeson Pointe on the outer harbor shoreline in downtown Buffalo. The group rallied to oppose the plans for the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to turn Wilkeson Pointe, a new park opened last summer, into a private housing compound and to erect a new residential village around Times Beach Nature Preserve, including in Wilkeson Pointe.
The Friends of Times Beach are concerned that the new residential community will ruin the nature preserve.
“Times Beach is a Nature Preserve, not a park” said Jay Burney, chair of the Friends group. “Residential density here will kill the nature preserve for natural wildlife by introducing building and neighborhoods design and practices that are not bird or wildlife friendly. We are concerned about collisions with windows, towers, walls, automobiles, and the introduction of pesticides and other chemicals, and increased noise and other activity that will do great harm to our native and migrating wildlife. This includes birds and important pollinator insects such as the Monarch Butterfly and several species of native bees and wasps which depend on this small place along the shoreline. The location is essential for the wildlife preserve, at the edge of Lake Erie and at the confluence of the Lake and the Niagara and Buffalo Rivers.” He added, “This is a perfect place for a nature preserve, if you are a bird or other form of wildlife that has depended on this place for thousands of years. We recognize that ff you are a human that wants to develop the property, this not such a good place for a wildlife preserve.”
Burney stated “Residential communities and wildlife do not interact well. We have deer, snapping turtles, fox, skunks, and large water snakes that wander in and out of the preserve. We frequently witness natural predation by hawks, ospreys and Bald Eagles that prey on small mammals and most assuredly will find family pets as delicious meals. Most people will not want to tolerate that in their front yard. We are also concerned that urban wildlife such as rats, raccoons, and even domestic pets such as cats and dogs will become predators of the almost 250 species of birds found at Times Beach. This diversity of birds is unique along our shoreline.”
Other speakers at the rally included Jayralin Herrera, WNYEA intern, who introduced the WNYEA principles to the crowd. These and other links to outer harbor issues can be found here.
James Carr, representing the 21 Century Park group which wants more open and public space on the outer harbor, indicated that the ECHDC funding arguments about condos paying for development is shallow and disingenuous and points to a bias for publicly funded private development over less expensive public space. He said that communities around the country have plenty of examples of how open space, parkland, and places like nature preserves drive the quality of life of a community higher, and that drives tax revenue upward, right now without the tremendous costs to building new neighborhoods on the public dime. Spending untold millions on brownfield clean up, infrastructure costs, and other items are public expenses that are way beyond the costs of developing and managing open space and public access. He reiterated that a park benefits all of the people of the region, not just a few insiders.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan addressed the rally and said the he was told by ECHDC Chair Gioia on Friday that the current final plan is not necessarily a done deal. In fact, Ryan told the crowd, any vote on the plan would take place in January. This was welcome news to the assembled who were concerned that a final announcement and vote on the previously announced final plan could take place as early as the first week of October. Ryan also urged the crowd to contact his office as soon as possible and to contact other elected representatives this week to let them know that there is growing opposition to the ECHDC plan to build a new residential community around Times Beach and in Wilkeson Point.