Buffalo Harbor State Park, located at the southern end of the Outer Harbor, seems inconspicuous despite its 190 acres of rolling waterfront land.
But New York State spent $15 million on the park since it acquired the land in 2013, and now 240,000 people a year are visiting it, according to the state. The park is now home to a nautical-themed playground, 1,000-slip marina and an expansive promenade.
Wednesday, the first state park in the City of Buffalo was dedicated by State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, marking the completion of the state's work.
"Over the last decade, Buffalo's waterfront has seen an amazing transformation," Assemblyman Sean Ryan said. "The new infrastructure at Buffalo Harbor State Park furthers the goal of connecting people to the water."
The focus on simplicity and connection to nature can be seen in the park's recreational attractions:
- New paved walking and bike paths are in the section of the park closest to the reinforced breakwall. There's shaded seating, a fishing platform and accent lighting.
- Open-air picnic pavilions and a stage area for music and movies. A sled-riding hill will open for winter sports.
- An $8 million face-lift for the marina includes additional slips, lighting and controlled secure access.
- An eight-lane boat launch on the southwest side of harbor allows boaters access to Lake Erie without navigating the 1,000-slip marina.
- Redesigned parking lots near the marina can accommodate 228 boat trailers. During special events, the lot can be converted to 372 parking spaces. A second parking lot for park patrons has 134 spaces.
- Two all-purpose recreational trails and a third trail that provides the western terminus of the Empire State Trail attract walkers and bicyclists.
- Buffalo Harbor State Park is located on a brownfield. Testing on water, soil and sediment conducted by the state and Ecology and Environment, an environmental management firm, concluded the park is safe for canoeing, kayaking, wave-running and windsurfing.
Buffalo Harbor State Park recently received the Environmental Project of the Year award from the Western Branch of the American Public Works Association.