BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York State is shelling out $15 million to create Buffalo’s first-ever state park.
Funds from the Buffalo Billion and NY Works will take 190 acres along the city’s waterfront and transform it into the 180th state park in New York’s system, complete with a destination playground, picnic pavilions, a redesigned break-wall at the marina, a pedestrian walkway overlook, fishing access and seating.
Erie Harbor Development Corporation Regional President Sam Hoyt said, “The preliminary reviews show that the water is safe for people to use as water sports. We still need to do additional testing before we can determine whether or not we can have a swimming beach out there.”
The land comes from 340 acres that were transferred to NYS by the NFTA. Construction will begin this fall.
The NFTA is operating the land and Small Boat Harbor marina through November 2014, but will partner with State Parks to put on a new series of activities and programs this summer on the lawn space, including a carousel operating free-of-charge daily, free family movie nights and new food and beverage options.
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation voted Monday to hire architectural and design firm Perkins+Will to explore how to redevelop the other 150 acres of land the state is receiving from the NFTA.
One of the proposed plans for the land comes from Buffalo Sportz Corridor, which would like to see an array of sports venues on the site, including a stadium with a retractable roof; tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts; an 18-hole golf course; soccer, baseball lacrosse and football fields with night lighting; a bait shop; ice rink for pond hockey; indoor track; gymnasium; sports outlet mall; segway and bike rental station; fitness gym; water taxi services; overhead tram service; restaurants; sky column tower; dome driving range; floating fish hatchery; and a Buffalo sports hall of fame.
Another group, the Greater Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Complex, previously suggested their own plan to create a new, 72,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof for the Buffalo Bills along the city’s waterfront, pictured below.
George Hasiotis of GBSEC said in a statement Monday that he remains confident that their proposal “will be the most attractive option for our community”.
Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, has stated that the Bills need a new stadium to ensure the franchise’s long-term viability. The state is currently exploring the possibility of building a new stadium for the team somewhere in WNY, although no location has been selected yet. The state has hired a California-based architectural and design firm to identify three or four potential sites in the region.
The ECHDC has received seven proposals for sports and recreation facilities on the Outer Harbor property, according to The Buffalo News.
But Hoyt is not confidant the land will be used for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. He says the first step is to get community input to see what the public wants.
“A lot of people will say it’s a negative that we don’t have a developed waterfront out there. I view it as a positive. We can look at what’s been done correctly in other areas, we can look at what’s been done wrong in other areas, and we can create the best waterfront in North America.”