A backhoe scraped a layer of soil from land at Buffalo's inner harbor Tuesday, exposing cobblestone streets from an earlier era.
Within a year, four historic streets will be reconstructed and integrated into Buffalo's long-planned waterfront redevelopment blueprint. Perry, Hanover, Prime and Lloyd streets will get makeovers that will reflect the historic legacy of the area, officials said.
Mayor Byron W. Brown and Rep. Brian Higgins met with reporters Tuesday to discuss the latest shoreline project. The work will come close to restoring the neighborhood's original street grid. Crews will use cobblestones salvaged from the site as well as stones from Genesee Street and the City of Cleveland.
The project was budgeted at$3.8 million, but Brown said bids came in at $3.2 million. The city will be responsible for 5 percent, while federal funds will finance most of the rest.
Higgins, D-Buffalo, called the project just one more component in a step-by-step blueprint for developing the waterfront.
"We're not hitting grand slams. We're hitting a lot of singles," Higgins said.
Brown said he believes the street reconstruction will help lure new businesses to the waterfront, including major retailers, boutique shops and local vendors.
Mark Cerrone Inc. has been hired as the project contractor, while DiDonato Associates will handle inspection and design work.
The board of directors of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., meanwhile, approved the draft generic environmental impact statement Tuesday for the proposed$325 million Canal Side project for the inner harbor.
The detailed analysis of the 20-acre, multiple-phase project includes a study of the impact on the Buffalo River and downtown traffic patterns, said Adam S. Walters, a Phillips Lytle partner and the harbor agency's legal counsel for the environmental review.
"This may be one of the most important documents we approve," Jordan Levy, board chairman, said during the regular business meeting held in the corporation's offices on Perry Street.
"We've taken a major step forward in developing the canal site," he added.
The next step is presenting the recommendation to the Empire State Development Corp., the lead agency, when it meets later this month. That agency will schedule public comments and hearings.
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