ECHDC Breaks Ground on Public Canals

May 19, 2012 Updated May 19, 2012 at 6:38 PM EDT

By WKBW Internet

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May 19, 2012 Updated May 19, 2012 at 6:38 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW/Release) - Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), along with local elected officials including Congressman Brian Higgins, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, ceremonially broke ground today on the historically aligned public canals at Canalside.

The public canals will be installed on the Aud Block and will interpret the alignment of the Erie Canal, which once crossed the site. The canals are designed to evoke the character and vibrancy of the historic Canal District, and to emphasize downtown Buffalo’s connection to the waterfront. They will be a four-season attraction and include ice-skating in the winter.

“The historically aligned public canals will create year-round excitement and a sense of place, as well as attract private sector investment to Canalside,” said Empire State Development Regional President and ECHDC Interim Chair Sam Hoyt. “Governor Cuomo’s revitalization of our waterfront is a keystone to economic development and one that we are finally gaining momentum on. We are transforming the waterfront into a true destination for the people of Western New York that recognizes our past and paves the way for the future.”

“The most important component of this announcement today is the fact that it was public pressure and the public’s demands that brought us to this point, where we are embracing our past with an eye toward building our future,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Buffalo’s Inner Harbor has seen greater improvements over the past 24 months than have been seen during the past five decades, all toward building new destinations for residents and visitors to enjoy on a year-round basis. I applaud the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and its leadership and state, county and city leaders who share the same vision of bringing the public back to the waterfront more often, for more events and more attractions, all toward the long term revitalization of downtown and the waterfront.”

“Today’s groundbreaking is yet another significant moment for Buffalo's emerging waterfront,” said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “The replica canals combine our rich history with the promising future that we are seeing right before our eyes. The progress on our waterfront is due to a lot of people and its creating a lot of positive momentum.”

“For many years we have been waiting for true, comprehensive waterfront redevelopment that returns our waterfront to its historic roots,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “Today, the waiting is over. The reconstruction of these historically-aligned canals is just the beginning of the next phase of inner harbor redevelopment, and with it comes the promise of the economic benefit we have been waiting years to see.”

“I am thrilled to see all the growth and development finally taking place on Buffalo’s waterfront,” said Senator Mark Grisanti said. “For too long we have neglected to fully utilize one of our greatest assets. I look forward to the day when as many people come to visit our waterfront with all of its attractions, shops and restaurants as go to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.”

“It’s great to see progress happening every day along Buffalo’s waterfront,” said Assemblyman Ryan. “These historically aligned canals are a welcome addition to Canalside, and will help bring visitors to our beautiful waterfront. I am committed to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo to secure state resources to further the growth of both the inner and outer harbor, something that is vital to economic development for Buffalo and Western New York.”

“Canalside is a bustle of activity this spring with significant progress you can see every day,” said ECHDC President Tom Dee. “Today, in the footprint of the mighty Aud, where we cheered for Buffalo’s success for 70 years, we celebrate the realization of our dreams for the 21st century and the beginning of real progress for Western New York. We still have a lot of work to do, five active construction projects, six pending projects and ten more projects in early development, but we can proudly say that we have tangible proof that great things are possible in Buffalo.”

The canals are approximately 37,000 square feet and will include all the necessary equipment to maintain ice during the winter. Three bridges and 22,000 square feet of towpaths lining the canals will reinforce the pedestrian experience and allow for future development as Canalside grows. The new public space will provide a unique setting for four-season programming, including ice skating during the winter, and special events and activities during spring, summer and fall, thus creating an environment rich with things to do.

With a total contract amount of $23,740,800, DiPizio Construction Company, Inc. of Cheektowaga is constructing the canals. Approximately 200 jobs will be generated by the construction of the canals, with permanent positions evolving once the work is completed, which will be in the spring of 2013.

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is a subsidiary agency of Empire State Development Corporation whose vision is to revitalize Western New York’s waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo based on the region’s legacy of pride, urban significance and natural beauty.

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