On Aug. 28 the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. presented its plans for the former Aud site.
If you had attended, you would not have learned anything about the rationale for turning over this site to private ownership (effectively eliminating taxpayers’ interests), but rather you would have learned how bound and determined the ECHDC is to “develop” our parklands at Canalside park.
I did go and I took the time to ask two representatives of the ECHDC: Why not expand our parklands to include the Aud site? If the presented plans are implemented, who will own the land and the proposed buildings? Will the land to sold to private owners at “market value” or for a token amount?
Will the future “owners” pay taxes at the normal rate or will there be tax abatements for the entire project?
The two spokespersons I talked to not only didn’t know the answers to these fundamental questions, but seemed to be utterly surprised by them, as if such considerations were beyond the ECHDC’s “vision.” It was clearly evident that increasing the size of Canalside park was beyond their ken.
My take-away was that no one at this presentation of the ECHDC’s three options for the Aud site had the slightest awareness of how delighted Western New Yorkers are simply walking on the Canalside boardwalk, attending concerts, attending special events, sitting on the Adirondack chairs, or perhaps playing in the sandbox. It is most unlikely that anyone who has enjoyed a walk on Canalside has ever desired to replace this park with private condos.
The plain truth is that we are losing our precious Canalside park land at an alarming and accelerating rate. To add insult to injury, there is not the slightest benefit for the taxpayer-owners in any of these plans for the Aud site, they are merely an outlandish scheme for subsiding private development – a scheme that will benefit very few people at the loss of wonderful community property.