BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — U.S. Senator Charles Schumer appeared Buffalo Wednesday afternoon to call on the U.S. Coast Guard not to evict the Sail Buffalo Sailing School along the Outer Harbor.
Schumer is asking the Coast Guard to amend capital improvements plans and “allow the sailing school to continue its operations on Coast Guard-owned land.” Schumer calls the Coast Guard’s plans to evict the organization “callous and shortsighted”.
"Typical bureaucracy at work," declared Schumer. “And I want to promise everyone here that I am going to do everything i can to make sure the coast guard does the right thing and keep sail buffalo here for years and years to come."
Schumer appeared at the edge of the Sail Buffalo camp along the waterfront with members of the organization, teachers and children who are students. He delivered high-fives to children attending a summer program to plead with the Coast Guard to stop plans to outside the organization.
The sailing school specializes in sailing lessons and training.
"But you can be certain they can achieve that goal without evicting Sail Buffalo,” stated Schumer.
Sail Buffalo was co-founded by Captain Pierre Wallinder and receives funding from the Niagara Greenway Commission.
“We are being asked to leave – that’s not right,” Wallinder tells 7 Eyewitness News.
The Coast Guard in Buffalo says it would not be conducting any on-camera interviews and directed us to its lead office, District 9, which made the decision to evict Sail Buffalo.
Sector Buffalo Public Affairs Officer Joe Neff tells 7 Eyewitness News the "goal" of the improvement project is to increase public access to the Out Harbor and lighthouse.
Sail Buffalo has been asked to leave the property by December of 2020 to give them time to relocate. The organization has 25 boats and nine buildings at the site.
The U.S. Coast Guard District 9 issued the decision for the Buffalo Coast Guard. Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash tells us Sail Buffalo's lease already expired in February of 2018 and they've already been granted an extension.
Wallinder insists it’s the only spot to provide safe sailing for children.
"I you live in buffalo and you know something about the waterfront – you understand that there is no option – this is it we are either here – or this is not going to be anything," replied Wallinder.
Schumer says he will continue to urge the Coast Guard to immediately reverse its decision, which he called quote "dumb".
"That’s not good enough – we want a permanent lease,” said Schumer.
The Coast Guard says along with capital improvements they want to improve access to Buffalo's historic light house.
Dennis O’Donnell, of south Buffalo, was at Sail Buffalo with his grandchildren Wednesday. He disagrees with the decision to evict the to improve light house access.
"This sail set up here has nothing directly to do with that. You can still access that," responded O'Donnell.
O'Donnell's granddaughter, Heidi Schalberg, says the location is the right site for the sailing organization and provides students with the "best view of Buffalo".
"I would hate to see it leave. I don’t know how else the camp would be so close to the boats. It’s perfect where it is," declared Schalberg.