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Letter: New Outer Harbor plan offers better framework

New Outer Harbor plan offers better framework

Responsive and flexible, the new Outer Harbor plan released by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. shows that agency has been listening and takes public input seriously. That’s worth applauding, but it’s still just a good start.

The ECHDC has left options open, not just for more green space but for future development. That’s as it should be, because it allows public demand a greater role in decisions yet to be made, instead of casting silver-bullet megaplans in concrete. The ECHDC has heard current opinions and shaped them into an adaptable framework, and that’s good.

Those of us already running sites and attractions on the Outer Harbor know the immediate needs are more mundane but essential – public restroom facilities, better signage, better parking. But most of us applaud the idea of concentrating initial development at the Port of Buffalo site and opening the Power Authority site across from Canalside to future, opinion-shaped development. (My personal hope is for some green space with a view, called Riviere aux Chevaux Park, for the name French explorers gave the river.)

At Lighthouse Point, we now have to raise funds to upgrade our own green space and better show off the iconic lighthouse we restored. Why? Because we’ve seen dramatic increases (and pressure on the site) since the cross-river ferry brought tens of thousands of visitors right to our gate this year. The ECHDC’s planned new shuttle from the point to the southern end of the harbor (where we’re starting restoration of the South Buffalo Lighthouse) will add to that next year. So we have problems to solve because of the new popularity of what not too long ago was a desolate industrial wasteland. What nifty problems to have!

Mike Vogel

President

Buffalo Lighthouse Association

Coordinator

Waterfront Working Group