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ECHDC approves series of Outer Harbor projects

Mike Desmond
Buffalo's Outer Harbor at dusk.

More construction and planning are coming to Buffalo's Outer Harbor, as decisions continue on what to do with the vast swath of land along Lake Erie.

During a meeting of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Monday, the agency's board approved a series of planning projects for different sections of the property and a construction project near the southern end of the property. ECHDC President Tom Dee said there will be a study of what to do with the overall site.

"We'd love to think about creating a public edge, a board walk similar to Canalside," Dee said. "We'd love to relocate the bike ferry here and have quicker access. Now you get off the bike ferry and you're right across from Wilkeson Pointe. So the purpose of this is to study that, study the options. So we're looking for this consultant team to master plan, design a number of relatively low-disturbance recreational activities."

Dee said Olin Partnership will design the 15 acres of land on which a 115-slip marina will remain through a $550,000 contract, with the recommended changes to be built over the next few years. He told the board a $4 million construction contract covers a lot of bits of the overall project and will be for just about everyone visiting the 20-acre site.

"The project will consist of a completed multi-use Green Belt trail, pedestrian bicycle amenities, bike racks, fences, trash cans, Adirondack chairs, completing the south end of the Green Belt loop with Fuhrmann Boulevard, two overlook locations, urban bike park, skills features and off-road trails, an event lawn for passive and active recreation purposes and three habitat restoration areas," Dee said.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Terminal A (left) and Terminal B can be seen behind undeveloped grassy acres.

The corporation also approved hiring a consultant to figure out what to do with Terminal "B" at the south end of the Outer Harbor, the First Buffalo River Marina at the north end and the transfer of the marina to public ownership, potentially with better access to the public and as a landing dock for the Queen City Bike Ferry near Wilkeson Pointe.

Dee said there are several options for Terminal B.

"The bones of the building seem to be pretty good. It's really a question of how we could best make that building work for the 30 acres around it," he said. "We're going through all different options. One option is to demolish the whole thing. Another option that I saw is to demolish half the building and leave two parts up. And then thinking about the programmatic side of things, we always need covered space."

That is a $375,000 contract to Bergmann Associates, which is to be completed early next year, providing an array of options for the building as planning and construction go forward on nearby open land.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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