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City, NFTA Settle Waterfront Land Dispute

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The battle over who owns the Outer Harbor in the City of Buffalo has been settled out of court. The city and NFTA signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday that drops lawsuits seeking ownership.

A State Supreme Court Justice helped the two sides settle the land dispute. The city and NFTA signed the agreement that drops all lawsuits filed in the fight over land ownership. Mayor Masiello was pleased with the deal.

"This issue had the potential to be very divisive and very counter productive," Masiello said. "And here again, it is an example of how we should not do business in this particular city."

The dispute between the city and the Transportation Authority occurred when the NFTA transferred the deed for the property to the State to build a new park. The Common Council argued that the city still had rights to the land. Council President David Franczyk says they're pleased with a settlement. But he says it does not include payment for the land.

"We fought for that very hard. The Council met at least on three occasions with the Judge," Franczyk said. "We pressed for money, but the fact of the matter is, it wasn't going to happen."

The agreement drops all lawsuits filed in the fight over land ownership. NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler say this will pave the way for future development along Buffalo's waterfront.

"This will enable the NFTA to complete its sale of the Small Boat Harbor to the State Parks Office," Meckler said. "The state parks will be able to create additional capital investments, including a new park as early as the Spring of 2005. We also have received three significant proposals for development of 120 acres of the waterfront."

Under the agreement, the NFTA is allowing the city to share equally in any proceeds that could result from development of the Seaway Pier property.