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The Inner Harbor redevelopment project, the result of decades of dreaming and years of planning, got its official start today at a groundbreaking ceremony hailed by fireboat water cannon.

"Forget the planning, the shovels are going into the ground," Gov. Pataki told the audience of elected officials and visitors gathered near the prow of the USS Little Rock at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. "You're going to see a great new Inner Harbor as part of a great, new city of Buffalo."

Pataki's comments were delivered only a few yards from where one of his predecessors, Gov. DeWitt Clinton, inaugurated the Erie Canal nearly 175 years ago. Officials are hoping the $27.1 million Inner Harbor project will kick-start a similar economic revival for the city.

"I believe Buffalo's future is inextricably tied to our past," Mayor Masiello said. "Water will be the catalyst for a new Buffalo, a new Western New York and new century.

"Buffalo's waterfront is ours," he added. "Other cities wish they had it. How we develop it into a place where people can work, live and play is important."

The new project, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2001, will open a quarter-mile of waterfront to a series of new boat slips, a re-creation of the historic Commercial Slip, a public plaza, and a new Naval and Military Park.

The state Thruway Authority is contributing $11.7 million, the federal government, $14.8 million and the city, $300,000.

While the Inner Harbor public project has been eagerly anticipated, the stakes were raised last week when Adelphia Communications and its partners, the Cordish Co. of Baltimore and Benderson Development Co., revealed details of plans for $160 million in additional investment.

Adelphia is promising in return to locate more than 1,000 jobs here in its fast-growing subsidiary, Adelphia Business Solutions. John J. Rigas, president and chief executive of Adelphia, said the talks about the future development may require "a little pain" but said the results will benefit the local economy.

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