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Higgins Pushes Board to Oversee Waterfront Development

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins was in Buffalo Monday working on details of some soon to be announced future funding for the Medical Campus. But Higgins had plenty to say right now on what he thinks needs to happen to get things moving on the waterfront.

The congressman applauded the rapid construction of the Hauptman Woodward facility, which is set to open May 12th. He called the Medical Campus a crown jewel of the city -- and a shining example of how development should be done.

The Congressman contrasted the project to the stalled waterfront development. Higgins says he doesn't blame Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello. Nor would Higgins say whom he'd like to see have the mayor's job next. But he says new leadership is needed.

"The fact of the matter is the city's inability to develop Buffalo's waterfront predates him by decades," said Higgins. "The current structure in place just doesn't work. Virtually every city in this nation has developed its waterfront, but for Buffalo."

Higgins pointed to Boston's "Big Dig" project as a perfect example of a city that has gradually moved waterfront development forward.

"The big dig project started off at a couple hundred million dollars, went up to $2 billion, today it's up to $14.6 billion," said Higgins. "That project is about removing the elevated section of highway to bring downtown Boston to the waterfront, and the waterfront to downtown Boston. It's very, very simple. You know, business community and the unions in Boston aren't at each others throats, because everybody is too busy working."

The Congressman has asked Governor George Pataki to create a commission that would oversee Buffalo's harbor projects. Higgins would like to see Medical Campus developer and Sabres managing partner, Larry Quinn head the temporary organization. The idea of a commission has the support of U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer. But it has met resistance from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.