I attended the public presentation of the development proposed for Grand Island, widely expected to be an Amazon distribution center. The developer’s attorney provided an overview of the project, which The Buffalo News wrote is “more than the size of two Walden Gallerias.” The attorney described the 145-acre site as vacant. It may be undeveloped, but it is anything but “vacant.”
The proposed site, just south of Buckhorn State Park, is largely wooded, has wetlands, several creeks and vernal pools. In the next month peepers and frogs will emerge. By May the trees will be in full bloom, trees that are home to hundreds of species of pollinators.
This area, described as “vacant,” is teeming with wildlife – deer, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, possums, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, turkeys. At night owls call to each other. During the day eagles, vultures, hawks, heron, egrets and countless other birds can be seen in the skies. Soon the song birds will be returning.
The Niagara River corridor, which pulls in Grand Island, is designated a Globally Significant Important Bird Area (IBA) and recently bestowed Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. These define the region on a conservation level similar to the Galapagos, Yellowstone and the Everglades for its abundance and variety or bird species.
What will happen to all of this when the land is cleared for a facility of over a million square feet? When the lights blaze all night at this 24-hour facility?
Grand Island’s semi-rural character has been eroded by ever-larger developments in recent years. Now this massive project is being fast-tracked. The proposal will require a great deal of research to proceed in a way that protects this fragile ecosystem. I hope the town will bring in the required environmental expertise and take the time necessary to review carefully this 2,202-page application.