Common Council Discusses Waterfront Land Sale

February 23, 2012 Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 8:07 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

February 23, 2012 Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 8:07 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) -Representatives of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority met Thursday with Buffalo Common Council members. The NFTA updated the council's Waterfront Development Committee on its talks with Bear Development Group, a local company seeking to purchase Gallagher Beach and the Small Boat Harbor. The NFTA chose Bear Development Group after receiving 2 bids for the land. The company bid $3.5 million for the property and says it'll invest $15 million for improvements. It's not a done deal yet, but the group says it'll make renovations to the area, including expanding the marina, dredging, fixing the break wall, and enhancing public access.

"The most important criteria for making a deal is to maximize, enhance, maintain and protect public access," said NFTA General Counsel David State. "We'll go into negotiations with that focus."

Some council members still have concerns about a private company owning the popular recreational sites along the waterfront, especially when it comes to public access and tax revenue.

"There's a lot of important things that have to go into protecting our waterfront for the next 20 years," said Buffalo Common Council Member Mickey Kearns. "We need to protect access to our shore line."

The NFTA says it will continue to operate the Small Boat Harbor throughout this summer. Negotiations with Bear Development Group is scheduled to begin in the summer and NFTA officials are hopeful negotiations will wrap up by the end this year.