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Group files lawsuit to block Outer Harbor development project

Posted at 6:50 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 18:51:30-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Despite continued community calls for more development to Buffalo’s waterfront, several Buffalo environmental groups are saying “pump the breaks” to a new 8,000 seat pavilion and other enhancements on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.

“Somebody has to speak for the birds, somebody has to speak for the public,” said Jay Burney with he Western New York Environmental Alliance.

Four groups, League Of Women Voters of Buffalo Niagara, 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor, Western New York Environmental Alliance, Sierra Club Niagara Group have filed a lawsuit against the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and the City of Buffalo citing violations of Environmental Law and due process.

“It should not become a waterfront parking lot or concert and event venue, competing with private businesses,” said Melissa Wischerath with 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor, Inc.

The groups petitioning say they are asking for park-land designation for the Outer Harbor, and to ensure ECHDC does not sell off, privatize or over program the area.

“There’s habitat out there and we need to protect as much as we can,” said Jay Burney of the WNY Environmental Alliance.

The groups pointed to the recent Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Airshow as being potentially dangerous to the birds and their mating season at the Outer Harbor and nearby Tifft Nature Preserve. Air Show Director Ben Canetti says the Air Show worked with the DEC and received a go-ahead from the DEC before the event.

“We have regulations—any nature preserve or natural habitat, we are not allowed to fly below 2,000 feet or directly over that,” he said.

Councilmember Chris Scanlon, who represents the district where the proposed Pavillion will go says updating the Outer Harbor will only enhance opportunities for the public to enjoy the space.

“That project is going to open up an area of the Outer Harbor to the public which is currently blocked off,” Scanlon said.

The ECHDC says it “is aware a lawsuit has been filed, but we have no comment.”