Governor Cuomo today officially designated the Buffalo Harbor State Park as the 180th State Park in New York’s system and the first in Buffalo that will propel the revitalization of the city’s waterfront. The designation is tied to the official transfer of 340 acres of land on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to New York State where there will be a destination playground, picnic pavilions, and a redesigned break-wall at the marina, featuring a pedestrian walkway overlook, fishing access and seating. Renderings of the new facilities can be viewed here

“By launching Buffalo’s first State Park along the city’s waterfront, we are creating a world-class destination that will attract visitors from all over to experience some of the best that Buffalo has to offer,” Governor Cuomo said. “The transformation of the Outer Harbor is a major step forward for Buffalo – one that will spur new investments throughout the region and lead to new opportunities in the future. I am proud that this project taking shape and look forward to seeing the completion of the Park’s new facilities.”

Through Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion and New York Works initiatives, Buffalo Harbor State Park will receive an initial investment of $15 million for improvements and enhancements. 

The 340 acres were transferred by NFTA today to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), a subsidiary of Empire State Development, which has entered into an agreement with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) to operate the park, including the Small Boat Harbor marina. Although NFTA will continue to operate the land and marina under State Parks’ jurisdiction until November 2014, they will partner in a series of new activities and programs this summer on the lawn space – including a carousel operating free-of-charge daily, free family movie nights and new food and beverage options. 

Construction will begin later this fall at Buffalo Harbor State Park to transform the area into a permanent 190-acre park, which will be subject to public review.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is prime waterfront property and it’s finally getting the attention it deserves. My administration has made it a priority to improve access to the water’s edge. From major investments at Erie Basin Marina, to the $172 million HarborCenter project, to the redevelopment of Broderick Park, we’ve made significant headway over the years and it’s only getting better. With this land transfer at the Outer Harbor, we will continue to see even more new investment, businesses and recreational opportunities for city residents and visitors. I thank Governor Cuomo for helping Buffalo transform our waterfront into a world-class destination.”

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “We are so very excited to officially welcome the very first state park in the city of Buffalo. Now that the property has been transferred to the State, we look forward to advancing this long overdue revitalization of the Buffalo waterfront – including an exciting 2014 summer season at the park, and offering the community an opportunity to weigh in on long-term park plans.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “The Outer Harbor serves as Buffalo’s front lawn and like the landscape in front of a home helps define the property, cultivating this property will provide great returns for our city. I commend the Governor for embracing something that has been talked about for decades and making it happen. This community can look forward to a wonderful new State Park on Buffalo’s waterfront.”

Senator Mark Grisanti said, “All of the pieces of the waterfront puzzle are starting to come together. I am confident the master consultants chosen by ECHDC will look at the big picture and utilize input from the public to develop a plan for the outer harbor that the entire community can be proud of and enjoy.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “The Buffalo Harbor State Park will be a great addition to our waterfront, and I thank Governor Cuomo, and the ECHDC for helping to make this dream a reality. The new state park will be transformational, and will help to increase public access to the water, and bring more and more people to our waterfront. The City of Buffalo deserves to have a world-class destination on the water for residents and visitors to enjoy, and in recent years we have seen great progress in achieving this vision. The Buffalo Harbor State Park will enhance our city for generations to come, and I am looking forward to my first visit to the first State Park in the City of Buffalo.” 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “I commend the Governor for moving forward with this plan to create a new New York State Park here in Erie County, as well as on the transfer of land to further revitalize the waterfront. These moves are the latest developments in the ongoing transformation that is reshaping our waterfront and our access to our most precious asset, Lake Erie.”

Howard A. Zemsky, NFTA Chairman said, “Today’s transfer of NFTA waterfront property represents a significant milestone that will provide momentum to a positive transformation of our outer harbor. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and continued commitment to the resurgence of our community. As a direct result of this transaction, the NFTA can now focus and concentrate full-time on its core mission of public transportation.”