BUFFALO, NY - A large parcel nestled between the Outer Harbor and Times Beach that, for many years, only housed ice boom equipment is poised to find new use as a waterfront public park.
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. directors agreed to invest $2.35 million to turn the 20-acre former New York Power Authority property along Fuhrmann Boulevard into green space. The conversion is being overseen by Edbauer Construction, which submitted the lowest bid.
The Edbauer bid was approved during the agency's July 25 meeting.
Work will begin in the next few weeks.
"It's ready," said Tom Dee, ECHDC president. "Everything is happening according to plan. People talk about bringing people to the water's edge and now we are doing it."
While some environmental clean-up work is necessary, officials hope to develop a series of walking paths and other amenities on the property. That was the game plan when the state agency acquired the property from NYPA two years ago. The power authority has since moved the ice boom equipment and materials further inland.
"It's important to visualize what's there today," said Sam Hoyt, Empire State Development regional president. "It's an overgrown parcel of land that's unsightly and fenced off. In a very short period of time, it will be a great destination for public use."
In other action:
• The agency directors agreed to pay the City of Buffalo $120,000 for five "slivers" of land near the former Memorial Auditorium and Donovan State Office Building that are needed for ongoing development efforts. None of the parcels were large enough to stand alone as separate development sites. Most were several hundred feet of acreage.
Four of the parcels were near the Aud and one is by the Donovan site.
• Delayed approving a sand sustainablilty study for two areas around Gallagher Beach and the former NYPA site until Erie County can conduct its own survey about whether water near those sites are environmentally-ready to handle an influx of swimmers.
The agency is considering turning the parcels into beaches and was ready to award a $359,520 contract to Nature's Way Inc. to conduct the sustainability study.
However, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said until the water could be tested, the agency might be "throwing away" $300,000 on the study.
The study is designed to see if the sand can withstand wind and wave action.
"This is really just the first step to see if it does work," Dee said.
Officials hope that if the land passes all the environmental tests, new beaches can be opened.
"It would be a huge gain for the community," Hoyt said.