The Erie County Legislature unanimously voted to support the proposal advanced by Congressman Brian Higgins for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to transfer its ownership of outer harbor property in Buffalo to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) at the Thursday, May 24, Legislature session.

The resolution, which has bipartisan sponsorship led by the Erie County Legislature Democratic Majority, calls for the Legislature supporting the proposal advanced by Congressman Higgins for the ECHDC to assume full control of the approximate 384 acres of property known as the “Outer Harbor” currently owned by the NFTA, for a payment of $1.

“The demonstrated success of the early stages of inner harbor development by the ECHDC has been met with accolades by the general public and more than $80 million in private investment,” Legislature Chair Betty Jean Grant (D-Buffalo) said. “It is vital for our region to leverage private sector investment along the shores of our world-renowned freshwater resource, which can best be accomplished by giving the stewardship of the Outer Harbor to ECHDC.”

”Buffalo’s waterfront should be viewed as a regional, state and national asset that should not be limited to the jurisdiction of any one local government,” Chairperson Grant added. “The best use of this waterfront resource can be achieved by ECHDC, which has made both passive and active recreational access by the public to the Inner Harbor a top priority that encourages private investment.”

Chairperson Grant noted that this transfer will trigger more than $11 million in improvements to the Outer Harbor, including clean-up and greening of the land, creation of a sand beach at Gallagher Beach, break wall rehabilitation including bike and pedestrian path extension, decorative lighting and benches, and dredging of the waterway.

“There is no compelling public interest served by the NFTA continuing its stewardship of the Outer Harbor. The core mission of the Authority is public transportation, including airport development and maintenance as well as support for the Metro Bus and light rail system,” Chairperson Grant said. “Failure to strategically develop this public resource has inhibited the access and utilization of the Outer Harbor by the citizens of Erie County and depressed private sector investment.”