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Letter: Outer Harbor developers should listen to the people

Outer Harbor developers should listen to the people

Kudos to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. The public has spoken and the NFTA has listened!

Last week’s announcement that the NFTA has withdrawn its RFP seeking a purchaser for the 50-acre Outer Harbor Terminal facility should be applauded by all who are concerned about the future of Western New York. Seeing the two Terminal buildings as simply empty industrial space without regard to its waterfront location was an example of the “old” world view still embraced by so many of our leaders. The world is changing and we must change with it if we are to grow and thrive.

The NFTA is headed by Howard Zemsky, who spearheaded the conversion of the Larkin Building into an icon of community revitalization. The Larkin “miracle” not only saved a huge piece of our industrial past, but has brought along on its coattails the revitalization of an entire neighborhood. But we should never forget that the Larkin success is also due to the efforts of Leslie Zemsky, who has labored to ensure that the physical improvements to the Larkin Building are supported by a program that courts public involvement. This makes people feel that the neighborhood is a good place to be, welcoming and interesting.

One cannot help but wonder if these facts were among the reasons Howard Zemsky led the NFTA to change direction on the Outer Harbor and to move toward transferring Terminal A and B to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

Now the ball is in the ECHDC’s court. Will it listen to the people? Or will it continue to demand more housing in the face of unrelenting public opposition? We should know the answer in just a few weeks. Stay tuned!

James E. Carr