Fun and Transformation on Buffalo’s Waterfront in 2012

April 11, 2012 Updated Apr 11, 2012 at 2:30 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Fun and Transformation on Buffalo’s Waterfront in 2012

April 11, 2012 Updated Apr 11, 2012 at 2:30 PM EDT

(WKBW release) The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation’s Board of Directors met Wednesday and approved an agreement with Buffalo Place, Inc. to provide operation, maintenance, and programming/special event services at Canalside.

According to a news release:

The directors also took actions to begin the process of remediating 21 acres of prime land on the Outer Harbor for public access and private development.

ECHDC will build on last summer’s momentum by offering 426 events and activities that will encompass a wide range of programming and involve contributions from more than 100 local and regional organizations, individuals, and area high schools. In order to establish this year’s schedule, ECHDC conducted two application rounds for seasonal programming and reviewed a total of 62 applications with a team comprised of various community leaders and ECHDC staff. The programming is a mix of daily activities, concert events and weekend festivals. 

“Last summer marked a turning point in the public’s perception about what is possible for Buffalo’s waterfront,” said ECHDC interim-chair Sam Hoyt. “Visitors to Canalside this summer will have their pick of events. Whether you are interested in yoga, the history of the Erie Canal or taking in a performance at one of Western New York’s best concert venues, Canalside has at least one event per day from June 27 through Labor Day.”

New programming this year includes:

  Digging the Story of Buffalo – A weekly archeological dig, under the direction of Douglas Pirelli, from the UB Department of Archeology, that will bring the “Story of Buffalo” to life, one layer at a time.

  Saturday Artisan Market – A venue for Greater Buffalo’s finest working artisans that will provide the public with the opportunity to watch and interact with artists as they create their pieces.

  Young Audiences of Western New York – A combination of hands-on activities and performances that celebrate the myriad of cultures of our region and invites children to become part of Buffalo’s creative history.

  Buffalo & Beyond Black History – A series of performances that detail the lives of such figures as Harriet Ross Tubman Davis, Sojourner Truth, and Mary Reynolds through story and song.

  The Buffalo Irish Festival – A celebration of Irish culture, featuring music, dance, food, crafts and beverages in a festive atmosphere. This year will also include an original theater production celebrating the history of the Irish in Buffalo.

ECHDC made a commitment to reduce the cost of operations, maintenance, and programming without impacting the quality of Canalside. This year, ECHDC can proudly say that it has reduced its costs by 14 percent over last year. At the same time, ECHDC will offer 40 percent more events and activities. The season will run from May 25, 2012 through October 2012.

In May of 2008, ECHDC acquired property in the City of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, formerly owned by Cargill, Inc. In June of 2011, ECHDC was authorized to acquire an adjacent property from the New York State Power Authority (NYPA). Together, these parcels constitute approximately 21 acres of prime waterfront property. Pending completion of the City of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), it is ECHDC’s intent to move forward with the remediation of this property in order to provide new public access for passive recreation uses and to ultimately promote its redevelopment for private development. ECHDC will hold a public hearing over the course of the next few weeks to present the plan to the community.

The goal is to establish new public access in a shoreline setting that creates a destination for residents and visitors alike. The plan aims to take advantage of the property’s prime position on the lake, seasonal weather elements and unparalleled views. The preliminary concept was prepared by LiRo Engineers. Highlights include: sculptural landscape forms; wind sculptures; a natural playground; a rain garden with bio-swales for storm water management; a sand shoreline; a pier/boat launch area; a comfort station; and a picnic area. The project budget is currently estimated at $3.8 million. The funding source will be proceeds received from NYPA pursuant to the Erie County/City of Buffalo Relicensing Settlement Agreement.

“Last summer our board authorized us to begin working on a plan to remediate the parcels that we own on the Outer Harbor, and now we are ready to bring the plan to the public,” said ECHDC President Thomas P. Dee. “We have been working closely with the Mayor and the team conducting the Outer Harbor BOA, so we feel that this is the logical next step. We will be taking the necessary steps to engage the public and garner their input.”