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Outer Harbor land to become a state park

Chris Caya/WBFO News

After nearly 60 years, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is getting out of waterfront development.

In Buffalo Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the NFTA's Small Boat Harbor and Gallagher Beach will become the first state park in the City of Buffalo. Nearly 400 acres of land will be transferred to the state for $2.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will operate that portion of the Outer Harbor property. That may include creation of a swimming beach, which would the first public beach within city limits. 

Cuomo says state resources will be will be invested.

"[We'll] be taking both parcels and combining them into what we believe is going to be a really first-rate state park and another investment in Buffalo and Western New York," Cuomo said.

Under the plan, 130 acres of vacant NFTA land north of the Small Boat Harbor will be turned over to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for park land and mixed use development, subject to a public process to determine its future.

Cuomo says land transfer will spur economic development, increase tourism, and create jobs.   

"The Erie Canal [Harbor Development Corporation] has shown how well they work, with the Canalside projects, et cetera. This is what they do. This has been a parcel of land that, for too long, has been removed and undeveloped. Canalside shows the potential of the waterfront. This is going to be the next step in that waterfront development," the governor said, speaking at Templeton Landing near the marina.

The NFTA has owned the land since the 1950s but the agency's primary focus has been running the region's transit system and airport.