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Letter: State agency should push Outer Harbor cleanup

Editor’s note: The writer of this letter is not Rep. Brian Higgins.

I find it ironic that for many years, people in Western New York complained about one agency having control of the waterfront, that agency being the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Now, one agency has control of the waterfront, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC).

The U.S. Coast Guard has control of probably the most desirable piece of land in all of Western New York, and the rest of the waterfront is controlled by another government agency, the ECHDC. The only privately-owned parcels between Tifft Street and the U.S. Coast Guard Base are RCR marina, the Sand Docks, and the former Freezer Queen site.

The Small Boat Harbor and Gallagher Beach are now a state park and the City of Buffalo owns Tifft Farm Nature Preserve. Surely some of this land can be sold for private development?

Other than the restaurant at Safe Harbor Marina, there is nowhere to get a sandwich on the Outer Harbor; exactly the same as it was when the NFTA had control of all of this land.

The ECHDC would be quick to point out that the public doesn’t want development on the Outer Harbor which is belied by the groundbreaking on new homes in Waterfront Village and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation spending $100 million on LaSalle Park.

The ECHDC should give up control of some of their massive cache of land so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Clearly people would welcome some housing, a hotel, or a restaurant; something more than trails, wildflowers and a bicycle park.

The ECHDC is clever enough to move about development (or lack of it) through scripted “public input” sessions and initiates its plans and policies by claiming it is giving the public what the public wants. The truth is that they have an agenda and are going to give us what they want. They should use their power to clean up the contaminated lands on the Outer Harbor and get out of the way of future development.

Brian J. Higgins

Buffalo

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