Mon March 11, 2013
Ryan seeks easement in Outer Harbor land transfer
After years of trying to get out of the waterfront redevelopment business, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is close to selling its holdings on Buffalo's Outer Harbor to another agency.
The NFTA is in the process of transferring its 400 acres along Furhmann Boulevard to a joint venture between the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and the City of Buffalo, according to Assemblyman Sean Ryan.
But before it happens, the Buffalo Democrat is calling for an easement on the land to prohibit commercial development within 15 feet of the water and ensure public access.
"Whoever is in charge of developing that land, be it the ECHDC or maybe [another] authority, that the idea of building to the water's edge is off the table. So this would immunize the public against bad decisions in the future," Ryan told WBFO News.
There is precedent for the action.
"Looking not too far in our past we saw at one point there was a proposal to have a Bass Pro dominate parts of our waterfront and give them exclusive use, which means no access. And just a year ago, the NFTA almost sold all the land in question to a private company that could have put up a fence and said no trespassing," Ryan said.
Prohibiting commercial development along the Outer Harbor would also help ensure completion of the Buffalo to Tonawanda Riverwalk, which links into the 365-mile-long Erie Canalway Trail to Albany.
After years of criticism over its stewardship, Ryan says a great lasting legacy for the NFTA would be guaranteeing public access to the waterfront in perpetuity. He is hoping the land transfer takes place sometime this spring.