Public weighs in on outer harbor plans

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is vast and mostly vacant.

“It’s been dormant for 60 years and it’s our last frontier. So this is our opportunity as a community to really make a difference” said Robert Gioia, the Chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.

Urban planners explained that the harbor has great potential to draw visitors as a major destination point.

They first wanted to get ideas from the public. Saturday was the last of three public meetings and more than 100 people showed up.

“This is just outstanding. We’ve had such interest and people serious and full of information. So very impressive” said Karen Alschuler, an urban planner and principal partner at Perkins and Will.

During the open sessions people placed notes on boards about what they’d like to see at the outer harbor. They also held group sessions to talk about possible uses of the waterfront and how it could affect the area.

Betsy Renner of Buffalo commented “I would like to see more winter use and the bike trails connect better”.

Jim Rudnicki of Lakeview said “I’d love to see us build two tunnels at the outer harbor and remove the skyway. If you remove the skyway you’ll be able to develop all of the land area that the elevated Route 5 takes up right now”.

Next the consultants will analyze each idea and present their findings about what could be developed across 171 acres of the waterfront including the new Wilkeson Pointe Park.

“They’ll come back in August and they’ll say here are the themes and ideas that we’re hearing. Then we’ll have to see how do we blend them” said Gioia.

If you didn’t have a chance to make Saturday’s meeting, you can still submit your suggestions. You can log onto www.eriecanalharbor.com/outer-harbor and submit an inquiry.

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