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Letter: Keep development out of Outer Harbor park

Keep development out of Outer Harbor park

Despite Western New York’s recent regional renaissance, our community is still struggling to catch a break. We all remember the long, tedious years of Larry Quinn’s $35 million Bass Pro scheme, which single-handedly stalled our Canalside development. Now, once again, we must fight Robert Gioia’s insistence that a waterfront park include “economically sustainable development.”

What a strange idea – let’s call it the “Gioia principle” – that any new park must be paid for with new (probably tax-abated) “development,” and that this development must be within the park’s borders. By this principle, Delaware Park would have required condos and commercial businesses before any land could have been set aside for the park. It is as if all of Western New York is somehow owned by the developers, who occasionally allow the community some small public space, as long as we quietly accept their latest, private money-generating schemes.

It is well past the time for us to end such self-serving nonsense and claim our rightful place at the decision-making table. Our waterfront does not belong to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., the developers or Gioia. Let’s soundly reject the “Gioia principle” of park development. After all, parks, by definition, are special areas set aside from, and free of, commercial or residential development.

To demand some relief from the decades of commercial exploitation of our waterfront is our community’s natural right. We are long overdue for a beautiful park on Buffalo’s waterfront.

Alphonse Kolodziejczak