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New York's newest state park is Buffalo's newest watefront attraction

The first and only state park in the City of Buffalo opened on Sunday, and is set to offer Western New Yorkers a new waterfront destination.Located next to the city’s small boat harbor and Gallagher Beach, Buffalo Harbor State Park boasts a nautical-themed playground, picnic pavilions, and added greenspace.

Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY 26th District) said a fishing pier and shade structure is due to be built at the site this summer, with more additions the harbor to follow.

“You’ll see improvements to the small boat harbor with new slips,” said Higgins. “I think you’ll see a new restaurant facility next year, which will be an expanded footprint on what you have now, perhaps multi-storied. I think the potential here is limitless.”

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY 26th District) talks about the features of New York's newest state park, Buffalo Harbor, which sits behind him in the background. The site was still under construction Friday, with a soft opening set for Sunday.

For decades, the outer harbor and its lack of progress was a source of frustration for city residents. Higgins said that under the ownership of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the area never received the kind of investment it needed. The past seven years, and an overall $121 million investment from local, state, and federal sources has changed that.

“The last seven years have been a sea change – no pun intended,” remarked Higgins. “But we’ve seen big, big changes, which are improving access for people along Buffalo’s waterfront.”

Higgins said the intent to redesign the area has been in the works for a very long time.

“There were five master plans developed for the outer harbor over the last fifty years and they all say the same thing: reserve the water’s edge for public access, and you’ll see private development follow. So that strategic vision is manifesting itself every day, so this is really just the build-out of many, many master plans.”

Higgins predicts there is more to come for the outer harbor, and estimates the current development at about 40 percent of its overall future.

“You’ll see more access projects, more development projects. I think you’ll see a lot of private sector development out here at the outer harbor, particularly where the terminal buildings are now,” said Higgins.

The park’s $15 million price tag was paid for exclusively by New York State. Sunday marked the park’s soft opening. A formal debut will take place in the weeks to come.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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