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Gondola ride over Buffalo waterfront? That’s the Hallwalls talk

A ride on a water taxi might be nice.

But viewing Buffalo from a sky gondola could be even better.

At least, some are wondering about that possibility.

The idea of gondolas in Buffalo will be discussed Monday, when the local group Citizens for Regional Transit hosts the Toronto-based Creative Urban Projects as they unveil a proposal for a Buffalo gondola.

The plan proposes a gondola cable-car – that travels through the air – that would connect Canalside with the Outer Harbor.

The conceptual plan will be presented by Nicholas Chu of Creative Urban Projects at Hallwalls gallery, 341 Delaware Ave., starting at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Gondolas and the Rust Belt might seem like an unlikely combination.

But some seem prepared to listen to plans for such a project.

At the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, Robert Gioia, chairman of the organization, said this in a statement emailed to The News:

“Improving access to the Outer Harbor is a top priority at Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. That is why we led the charge to redesign and transform Ohio Street into a riverfront parkway and are introducing a new pedestrian/bike ferry next week. We find the gondola concept interesting and will gladly meet with anyone who has ideas on how to continue to improve our great waterfront.”

At first glance, a sketch showing enclosed gondola cars stretching on steeply escalating cables from the NFTA’s Erie Canal Harbor station over the Skyway en route to a landing at the Outer Harbor’s 21st Century Park appears as futuristic fantasy.

But, don’t be fooled, organizers said.

“It’s a realistic proposal, but it’s just a concept right now,” said Douglas Funke, president of Citizens for Regional Transit. “We’re saying it should be looked at.”

“They could be a tourist attraction.”

Funke said the $20 million to $30 million price tag for the system is “relatively inexpensive” when compared to a more than $100 million project to construct a lift bridge.

The presentation, called “For a down to earth city, the sky is the limit” will last about an hour.

It’s free and open to the public at the Hallwalls venue.

Incidentally, the presentation will occur just hours after the planned 10 a.m. launch and first trip of the new Queen City Bike Ferry, which will connect Canalside with the First Buffalo River Marina across the Buffalo River on the Outer Harbor.

Representatives from the Erie County Harbor Development Corp., the bike ferry, Assemblyman Sean Ryan and others are expected to attend the morning event at Canalside.

It’s not the first gondola proposal in the Queen City by Creative Urban Projects.

The group made a similar proposal two years ago.

“They gave us a tutorial about the gondola, how it’s designed and used,” Funke said.

“Now, they’ve got a little more information.”

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