Safety issue prompts more Council deliberation on RiverWorks - The Buffalo News

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Safety issue prompts more Council deliberation on RiverWorks

A proposed entertainment complex along the Buffalo River hit an unexpected bump in the road Monday when city lawmakers decided to deliberate a little while longer.

The Common Council’s Legislation Committee voted last week to recommend that the full Council approve an item related to Buffalo RiverWorks, but when the item came up for a vote Monday, South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon requested that it be sent back to committee for further discussion.

Scanlon said he is concerned about public safety at the site.

It is unclear how the Council’s action Monday will affect the proposed project. The $15 million complex would feature a brewery, restaurant, outdoor skating rinks, performing arts space and boat docks.

After considering arguments from industries that have operated for decades on Kelly Island, specifically that introducing pedestrians and more traffic to the area would create safety hazards, the Planning Board issued a key approval last Tuesday. Building permits have been issued.

The Council does not have approval power over the site plan, and developers do not need to obtain zoning variances. The item before the Council pertains to whether the project fits into a coastal area.

City lawmakers have approval power over projects in special review districts, and RiverWorks is in the Buffalo Coastal Special Review District. “From the outset, I’ve had a number of concerns about the project down there,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon said he wanted answers from the developer about how traffic concerns would be addressed and what security would be provided for events.

RiverWorks Developer Doug Swift called Scanlon’s move unexpected. But Swift said he did not think the latest hiccup would delay plans for the site at 333 Ganson St.

“I don’t see that anybody is trying to slow us down at all,” Swift said.

Preparations are under way for the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, expected to attract more than 800 players Feb. 21-22. The event does not require tickets, but Swift said he expects sufficient parking spaces on-site to accommodate visitors.

The Planning Board set certain conditions when it approved the plan, including having adequate security during large events and putting up signs to encourage drivers to use Ohio Street to approach the site.

The board also said that it would be the city’s responsibility to improve the intersections in the area.

Scanlon said he is not under pressure by any of the industrial employers on Kelly Island, where St. Mary’s Cement, General Mills, ADM and others operate. The companies, as well as Sonwil Distribution, opposed the RiverWorks plan during the Planning Board’s deliberations.

The Council’s Legislation Committee will discuss RiverWorks at 2 p.m. next Tuesday.


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