Decisions awash on waterfront

April 13, 2011 Updated Apr 13, 2011 at 7:38 AM EDT

By James Fink - Business First


Decisions awash on waterfront

April 13, 2011 Updated Apr 13, 2011 at 7:38 AM EDT

A water taxi service that will move people from the Central Wharf site in downtown's Canal Side complex to points along the Buffalo waterfront will be arriving this summer.

So will an expanded Central Wharf site and more special events along the water's edge.

And, for history buffs, the Buffalo Lighthouse is expected to be repaired and open to the public.

All were among the highlights of the issues covered during a 150-minute long Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. meeting Tuesday.

The harbor development corporation's directors approved a three-year deal with Buffalo Sailing Adventures to provide the water ferry service, beginning this summer under the Queen City Ferry Co. banner.

The service will be for pedestrians and bicyclists. No vehicles will be allowed on the boat.

Service will run from the Central Wharf to four locations: the Commercial Slip, Festival Park along the Buffalo River, the First Buffalo Marina and Small Boat Harbor. Round trip adult tickets are $8.

Buffalo Sailing Adventures will operate a single boat.

"We're hoping they are busy enough to be adding a second and third boat in later years," said Tom Dee, ECHDC president.

The harbor development agency is paying Buffalo Sailing $96,450 during the course of the three-year pact.

In two related actions, the agency's directors selected C. Destro Development Co. Inc. of Buffalo to handle the 400-foot extension of the Central Wharf site, bringing it closer to the mouth of the Buffalo River and the DLW Terminal.

C. Destro was the lowest of nine bids and will be paid $196,500 for the work.

Dee said he expects the extension to be completed by mid-June.

"We're opening up more of the Central Wharf to the public," Dee said.

The board also awarded a $1.6 million contract to C&S Cos. of Buffalo to handle the design work, overseeing the bidding process and handling the construction administration for series of Erie Canal replica waterways that will be a key attraction inside the Canal Side footprint. Dee said 15 firms responded to an RFP and five made the short list.

The canal construction is expected to go to bid later this year and should be completed by next summer.

The harbor development agency also approved spending $170,700 to make a series of repairs to the circa-1833 Buffalo Lighthouse, so the historic structure will be open to the public this year.

International Chimney Corp. of Williamsville will handle the work, which includes exterior repairs, handrail replacements and masonry work.

Buffalo Place Inc. was awarded a $975,000 contract to handle the operations, maintenance, security and to assist with special events at the Central Wharf.

Buffalo Place will be presenting a series of concerts at the site under its "Rocks the Harbor" format including shows by the Dark Star Orchestra and Elvis Costello. It will also be working with community and cultural groups on special event programming including at least one performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

An estimated 211 special events are planned at the Central Wharf this summer.

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