The proposal to build a truck terminal on the Buffalo waterfront appears dead after an NFTA committee "indefinitely postponed" the project today.
The authority's Operations Committee turned down a lease proposal from partners Frank J. McGuire and Frank P. D'Arrigo after several commissioners noted a key ingredient of the lease -- approval of the federal government -- did not appear imminent.
"It's dead until someone revives it," Robert D. Gioia, chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, said.
The NFTA action today followed a recommendation from planners for the Horizons Waterfront Commission that valuable lakefront property should not "be squandered through the use of non-water-dependent or non-water-enhanced activities such as land-based truck terminals."
NFTA general counsel Lawrence M. Meckler said the U.S. Customs Service would need to approve the lease of an inspection station at the site. But several commissioners noted negative comments from local Customs officials about an inspection station located several miles away from the Peace Bridge port of entry, as McGuire and D'Arrigo have proposed.
The Horizons Commission has avoided any type of public stance on the McGuire-D'Arrigo plan to build a customs inspection facility on the city's Outer Harbor. They proposed using 10 to 12 acres of waterfront land owned by the NFTA. But that proposal prompted significant opposition from groups pushing for improved public access to the waterfront. McGuire was unavailable for comment today.
Horizons Chairman Edward C. Cosgrove would not comment on the plan, but he said the project should be studied with an eye toward weighing its long-term benefits to the waterfront.
"It would seem to me that something that's not water-related should be looked at very carefully," Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove won't say whether the Horizons Commission is opposed to the truck inspection facility, but sources close to the commission say he and other commission members oppose the project.
McGuire said Tuesday that he respected the commission's position but that he planned to continue pushing for NFTA approval.
He said the waterfront location was picked because it was one of the few sites that met the guidelines established by the federal government. He also contends the site is suitable for a truck terminal because of its location within the Lakeside Industrial Park.
Critics of the plan reacted with mixed emotion to the Horizons Commission report.
"I'm extremely pleased," said County Legislator Joan Bozer, R-Buffalo. "My only concern is that (the commission) may not be able to exercise its own recommendations."