– A local coalition of community members and organizationsgathered to launch the “Our Outer Harbor” campaign, announcing their first public meeting to beheld on Wednesday, September 28th. The group emphasized preserving the public trust onBuffalo’s waterfront ensuring transparency, community input, protecting historical resources,habitat, and public health.
Representatives from groups including Western New York Environmental Alliance (WNYEA),21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor (21st Century Park), Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Partnership for the Public Good, Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve, the League of Women Voters Buffalo/Niagara (LWVBN), and Sierra Club Niagara Group commented on the noteworthy transformation of Buffalo’s waterfront and a need for the public to be more actively engaged in the ongoing planning process for the Outer Harbor.
Jay Burney, Chair of Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve and Habitat Chair of WNYEA said, “We applaud the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC)’s effort to engage the public in all Outer Harbor issues. We are pleased to create this campaign in order to further the objectives of public outreach and engagement.”
In November of last year, ECHDC approved plans for several Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper improvements to the Outer Harbor including bike paths, improved signage, and recreation spacen on Michigan Pier. While applauding reinvigorated access to the area, Our Outer Harbor advocates insisted that all development should be temporary in lieu of a comprehensive plan, follow the intent of the law, and be shaped by the ideas of residents.
LWVBN President Terri Parks said, “We have joined the Our Outer Harbor campaign in support of plans that provide and ensure year-round public access to the waterfront, a coherent regional planning process arrived at and adopted with adequate public participation, and protection and enhancement of the natural environment at the water’s edge.”
Nicole Matteson, Executive Director of 21st Century Park said, “It has been our vision for the past five years to fulfill Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for a waterfront park in Buffalo and create a unique, recreational environmental destination for our region. It is imperative that this land is protected in perpetuity in the public trust, and that our neighbors lend a hand in a creating a shared vision for Buffalo’s waterfront.”
The growing coalition plans to work with community organizations and the broader public to be defined as a significant stakeholder in ECHDC’s ongoing planning process for the Outer Harbor.
The campaign will further engage the public in both understanding and appreciating the many opportunities that we have with this very unique place through public meetings, workshops, and more.
“Preservation Buffalo Niagara believes that we should develop an Outer Harbor grounded in an authentic sense of place that honors our lakefront and industrial heritage that will make our community proud long into the future”, said Executive Director Jessie Fisher.
Lynda Schneekloth, Advocacy Chair for WNYEA, said, “Few cities have the opportunity that Buffalo has – acres of land on one of the Great Lakes where we can preserve a large public space. Together we can create unique recreational opportunities and preserve vital an increasingly endangered natural habitats. If we do this right, we offer an incredible lakefront for all the people of the Niagara Region and leave our children and their children a legacy worthy of Olmsted.”
ECHDC and all interested members of the public are welcomed to attend the first public meeting on Wednesday, September 28th at 7:00 pm at Riverworks, 369 Ganson St, Buffalo. Beforehand, members of the coalition will host tours on the Outer Harbor starting at 5:00. Those interestedcan meet at the Wilkeson Pointe Park sign on Fuhrmann Blvd.
The Our Outer Harbor campaign is led by a coalition of community advocacy groups dedicated to protecting and preserving the public trust on Buffalo’s waterfront. The campaign stresses that all development planning processes for the Outer Harbor follow the intent of the law, set a positive precedent for waterfront land use and the protection of public health, and ensure transparency and timely information to the public. More information and an online petition can be found on the campaign’s website, www.OurOuterHarbor.org.