The Buffalo Lighthouse has been open to the public since 1985. Still, its limited access may be deterring some visitors.
This 1833 icon is at the northern tip of the Outer Harbor, next to the Coast Guard station. It is the need for security at the Coast Guard facility, with a concrete barrier, stop signs and security fences, that can make it appear the lighthouse is off-limits to the public. In reality, it is open daily from early morning until dusk.
In an effort to make that crystal clear, Rep. Brian Higgins announced plans to expand the public portion of the Coast Guard station.
Higgins, who has over the years secured several million dollars for the lighthouse, naturally wants the public to know it is welcome. For its part, the Coast Guard does not intend to keep people away from the lighthouse.
The light and surrounding park are under the care of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association, a group of volunteers who continue to put their time, energy and funding into the limestone tower and Buffalo’s lesser-known South Buffalo Lighthouse at the south entrance to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
“This is treated like a fortress. That’s not good enough in the new Buffalo,” said Higgins.
He is working with the Coast Guard to improve the entranceway to Lighthouse Point, which the association considers a historic site and not merely a park. The congressman is trying to get funding to create a more welcoming entranceway and gate for the site.
The Buffalo Lighthouse gets in excess of 40,000 visitors a year. This number has increased exponentially since the Outer Harbor parkway and bicycle path have taken off and the Queen City Bike Ferry has been put in place. The association sees the number of visitors continuing to rise.
The Lighthouse Association has a grant from the Greenway Commission’s Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee for $115,390 worth of improvements. The association has put in a new picnic shelter and will redo parts of the pathway and install safety fencing and better signage.
This cooperative, three-way effort to make the lighthouse more welcoming enhances one component of the rapidly improving Outer Harbor.