Heliport isn’t appropriate anywhere near waterfront
Thanks to The News for the Oct. 7 piece calling Tifft Nature Preserve “a birder’s paradise.” Like much of the narrow strip of land between the Buffalo River and Lake Erie, including the Outer Harbor, Tifft is a National Audubon Society-designated “Important Bird Area,” thanks to the hundreds of species of breeding and migratory birds to be seen there. Birders come from all over the world to enjoy the natural serenity of Tifft and Times Beach Nature Preserves and the naturalizing land between them like the Bell Slip preserve. Most of this coastal land is zoned “green” or “natural” in the city’s Green Code – parkland and refuge to many species whose populations are in decline, including American bittern, brown thrasher, osprey, pied-billed grebe, muskellunge and lake sturgeon.
And, as Mary Kunz Goldman wrote, “This isn’t only their refuge. It’s yours.” Buffalo’s Lake Erie coast is where we walk, cycle, sail and sit to watch birds, wildlife and gorgeous sunsets.
This week the Common Council canceled a public hearing on a proposal to put a helicopter port in the midst of all this, due to opposition from neighboring communities and businesses. The project proponent saw a business opportunity for photo tourism, “allowing passengers to capture and experience the city from the vantage point only birds are used to seeing.” The problem is the externalized costs to surrounding communities, human and wild, of daily helicopter takeoffs and landings from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
A heliport is not appropriate anywhere in Buffalo’s hard-won and beautifully recovering Outer Harbor. Council members are helping to conserve our city’s greatest natural public asset – our park on the lake.