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Letter: Higgins’ work is the reason the waterfront is alive again

Higgins’ work is the reason the waterfront is alive again

Buffalo’s waterfront areas are amazing. From Canalside to the near-finished HarborCenter project to the Outer Harbor’s new recreation areas, Buffalo’s waterfront areas have come a long way over the past decade.

But let’s not lose sight of how it happened. We need to remember who had the vision and who worked to make it real. That’s Congressman Brian Higgins.

Higgins took a little bit of state money and created the boardwalk at Gallagher Beach. Higgins pressed the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to demolish the old Pier Restaurant and forced transfer of the property to the state for only $2. Higgins told Bass Pro to “put up or shut up,” replacing subsidized big-box development with home-grown efforts. And it was Higgins alone among local political leaders who galvanized our community and used his leverage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to help Western New York win the quarter-billion-dollar New York Power Authority settlement that has financed the very improvements we enjoy today.

When Higgins went to Congress the Inner and Outer Harbors of Buffalo looked like construction sites that had been abandoned. But Higgins was there, alone, talking about his vision and his plans to bring changes to the area. Unlike a lot of politicians, he backed up his words with lots of action. And his work has fundamentally changed Buffalo for the better.

Kerry A. Zelazny