After years of watching Canalside and Ohio Street transition into prime waterfront destinations, it’s time to start considering Buffalo’s waterfront as a whole.
Recently, a groundbreaking was held at Ralph Wilson Park (formerly LaSalle Park). Before that, we witnessed a crucial investment into Broderick Park. But much of the city’s waterfront has been compromised over the years. A leading example? The Erie Canal was filled in to make way for the I-190, resulting in the city being blocked off from the Niagara River.
Now that major investments have occurred along Niagara Street, it’s time to consider implementing supplemental investments that help to connect people to underutilized waterfront destinations.
For years, we’ve been talking about the potential of drawing up a master plan, or a general guideline, to analyze what it would take to create a premier waterfront, not just investing in a few key out-parcels.
To that end, the Buffalo Common Council has adopted a resolution that asks for Federal and State funding and development, and further enhancements, to tap the full potential of waterfront amenities that include Riverside Park, Towpath Park, Unity Island, Black Rock Canal Park, Broderick Park, and Front Park.
The resolution was prompted by data that shows “three to one return in revenue dollars for pursuing economic activity on Buffalo’s waterfront.” If that is the case, maybe it’s time to look at an even bigger picture – how the downgrading of the Scajaquada Expressway is directly tied in to the relocation or the downgrading of the adjoining I-190 that runs along the Niagara River. There’s no reason that waterfront land can not be reclaimed, while creating a boulevard scenario that allows people to directly access the Black Rock Canal and the Niagara River. Let’s not simply ask for bandaids, let’s ask to re-attach a body of water to its city. Maybe that starts with investing in the isolated and squandered parks? But maybe there is a chance to analyze what it would take to complete an even larger waterfront puzzle? What’s the downside? This resolution is certainly an important start to the process.
“It’s great to see how the waterfront has developed thus far in Downtown Buffalo. I want to use this momentum we have seen in other communities and bring waterfront access and amenities to residents in the North District,” said North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr., who sponsored resolution along with Niagara District Council Member David A. Rivera. “I live about a half a mile from the waterfront and can envision the potential this region has for waterfront development.”
“In recent years, there has been major investment in the waterfront, specifically to Canalside and the Outer Harbor,” Rivera. “As the City of Buffalo, we need to look at the waterfront as a whole, from the Southern-most end to the Northern-most end, and make sure that investment in the waterfront from the Peace Bridge going North is not forgotten.”