A new state park on the outer harbor will start to take shape in the next few weeks.
Buffalo Harbor State Park, which extends from Gallagher Beach to the Small Boat Harbor, will have a nautical-themed playground, two picnic pavilions, promenade and stage, along with a large area for recreational activities. There also will be new sod and soil cover, landscaping and berms to vary the site's topography, as well as bike racks and recycling bins.
“This park is a key feature of the outer harbor project and the revitalization of one of Buffalo's greatest assets – its waterfront,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. Cuomo designated the 190-acre park in May, the latest step in creating public space and improving access to the city's outer harbor.
“The state takes its stewardship of this property seriously, and wants to move quickly with enhancements and improvements and new amenities,” said Sam Hoyt, an Erie Harbor Development Corp. board member. “It really is just the beginning of what the public will ultimately see, not only the new park, but the entire outer harbor area.”
The $15 million to transform the lakefront property formerly overseen by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority into Buffalo's first state park will come from the governor's Buffalo Billion and New York Works initatives.
The new park, along Fuhrmann Boulevard, joins Times Beach Nature Preserve and Wilkeson Pointe Park, a 21-acre park dedicated in May 2013 that features a sand beach, trails, gazebo, volleyball courts and wind sculptures. Visitors can also visit the Buffalo Lighthouse on property shared by the Coast Guard.
Expectations that Gallagher Beach would allow swimming have been set back due to water pollution.
Plans are also being developed for 160 acres on the outer harbor that was also formerly on NFTA land.
After input from several public meetings involving hundreds of people, Perkins + Will, a consultant hired by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., is developing a land-use plan, with a final plan expected in late September.
Last month, Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and the New York Power Authority announced a small ferry linking Canalside to the outer harbor could begin by summer 2015. NYPA owns the outer harbor shoreline property.