Buffalo residents want a strategy to develop the waterfront that complements efforts to revitalize the city and provides maximum public access to the shoreline.
Parks, fisheries, bike paths and affordable housing got a boost from several speakers Wednesday night during a public meeting on the goals and objectives for waterfront development held in the Waterfront School on Fourth Street.
Several residents told members of the Horizons Waterfront Commission, the sponsor of the meeting, to be cautious about developers who are concerned only with profit. They also warned that private owners of waterfront land and differing regulations of municipalities along the 90 miles of waterfront in Erie County may stand in the way of those goals.
"We don't have parks for our kids. . . . It's about time the Horizons start considering the little guy, too . . .," Josephine Golata said.
She said too many boating facilities along the waterfront could ruin the quaility of the water, and warned that private property owners will probably resist some plans for public access.
Stephanie Barber pointed out the commission includes no minority women, and asked if the group could be expanded to include more of the type of people who will be using the waterfront.
She also noted city residents cannot use facilities in Hamburg and other municipalities that have beaches.
"Do you have an affirmative-action plan, that talks about what's going to happen when you start building?" Ms. Barber asked. "Where have you allowed for affordable housing on the waterfront?"
Robert Coles, a member of the commission, suggested the group try to get town and villages on the waterfront to drop restrictions against other county residents.
Others said waterfront development must be connected to the overall revitalization of the city. About 40 people attended the meeting.
"I think it would be a shame if we had a beautiful waterfront and the neighborhoods continued to deteriorate," Alex Morris said.
James August , co-chairman of the North District River Committee and the Strawberry Island Restoration Committee, suggested that the commission plan a park for 60 vacant arces of Squaw Island.
He also said he support proposals by Rep. Henry J. Nowak, D-Buffalo, for gearing parts of the waterfront to the needs of sport fishermen and the preservation of marine habitats.
However, he also noted that government resources must be used for the public good and not to encourage developers who already are very willing to build on the waterfront.
He and other speakers called for setback regulations for construction along the waterfront to ensure public access to the shoreline.
The commission will hold its next public meeting at 7 p.m. today in the City of Tonawanda Council Chambers.