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Letter: Restore free public access to the waterfront walkway

At the mouth of the Buffalo River, near the Coast Guard Station, is a pleasant little waterfront walkway that leads to the lighthouse we know as China Light.

Along the walkway are items of interest: signs telling of Buffalo’s long waterfront history; several anchors; a ship’s bell; and of course China Light.

For many years the waterfront walkway has been open to the public. The walkway and lighthouse reside on Coast Guard property and usage rules are prominently attached to the fence. All are very reasonable.

Recently, we parked near the Coast Guard Station anticipating a leisurely walk out to China Light to watch the boat traffic in the harbor and sunset. We found the gate chained and locked.

When we returned on the weekend we found an armed civilian guard who informed us that the Buffalo Lighthouse Association now controls the waterfront walkway. Monday through Friday the walkway is closed to the public. Saturday and Sunday it is open for a $5 per person fee. None of this makes any sense. At no other place on the waterfront is a user fee required to gain access.

We have no argument with the BLA charging a fee to enter the lighthouse. We would be happy to pay a reasonable fee to do this and view the harbor from atop China Light. Furthermore, if the BLA conducts a fund drive to benefit the lighthouse, we intend to participate. However, we resent closing the walkway and considerate it a serious mistake.

Thanks to Rep. Brian Higgins, Western New Yorkers are enjoying the delights of unimpeded access to the waterfront.

We applaud the BLA efforts to upgrade the lighthouse and make it safe for visitors. Unfortunately, the BLA has also chosen to limit access to the waterfront walkway. Does the BLA need our $5 so much that it closes off the waterfront walkway for five full days a week and posts an armed guard on Saturday and Sunday to collect the access fee?

We urge the BLA to reconsider its stand. Please remove the locks and chains and restore free public access to the waterfront walkway.

Kate and Edward Martin


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