Some Proposals for Canal Side Project Meets Opposition

November 24, 2010 Updated Nov 24, 2010 at 7:33 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

November 24, 2010 Updated Nov 24, 2010 at 7:33 PM EDT

Local Advocates are speaking out against some of the proposed plans for the Canal Side project in Downtown Buffalo. Last week the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) delayed its vote on the Canal Side Modified General Project Plan. The MGPP focuses on developing property where the old Aud once stood. The plan includes a series of public canals, walkways, and a parking garage. The plan though is meeting criticism from local advocates.

"There is simply not the demand for this proposed supply," said Buffalo State Economics Professor Bruce Fisher. "If they build it with our money it'll be there, but it'll be empty. Our money will be gone, and our river still dirty."

Critics are also questioning the cost of the plan since the canals and towpaths are expected to cost more than $32 million and an additional $1.3 million for the parking garage.

"Why should we as taxpayers consent to agree to put our scarce public funds for this kind of turkey?" said UB Professor Steve Halpern. "It's beyond sad, it makes no business sense, makes no common sense, and it's wasteful."

In addition to delaying its vote, ECHDC also held a series of open houses. The public was also encouraged to voice their opinions on the plan. Chairman Jordan Levy says the board is committed to working with the community.

"I'm not doing this to go through some charade. I am clearly interested in hearing what people have to say," added Levy.

Advocates will meet at the Commercial Slip in Downtown Buffalo Saturday afternoon to rally against the proposed plans. The board of directors will meet again Monday afternoon to discuss and vote on the plan.