Outer Harbor group pushing parkland over housing

Dec 1, 2016

Winter may be here but the struggle over the eventual design of Buffalo's Outer Harbor certainly isn't going into winter hibernation. The subject drew a large crowd Wednesday night to the Buffalo Irish Center for a meeting sponsored by a new advocacy group, Our Outer Harbor.

The new group Our Outer Harbor is looking to bring fresh ideas to waterfront development.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

That group is pushing against the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation's goal to bring housing to the area.

"In my opinion, the most important reason why housing does not make sense out there: We have neighborhoods that desperately need investment right now in the city and we do not have growth that's going to sustain all of these new upscale housing developments," said Nicole Matteson, the founder of Our Outer Harbor.

Matteson is among the many attending the meeting who believe the Outer Harbor should be set aside for parkland.

"I wear my agenda on my sleeve. I believe in the environment and in nature," said environmentalist and birder Jay Burney, who wants to support the Times Beach Nature Preserve. He doesn't want housing development to interfere with its birds.
"People laugh about birds. But, birds are critically important and this is a critically important area. It's part of the Niagara River globally significant important bird area. Birds use this area. They depend on this area. So do fish. So do pollinators," Burney maintained.

Much of the discussion centered on Queen City Landing, the 23-story residential complex being developed by Gerry Buchheit that will replace the former Freezer Queen facility. Common Councilmember Chris Scanlon, who sponsored the meeting, didn't directly oppose the project, but he did criticize the process used by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.

Discussions about waterfront development continue to draw large crowds. That was certainly the case at Wednesday's meeting at the Buffalo Irish Center.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

"Some times they want to keep things to themselves a little bit, maybe not as transparent as they could be," Scanlon said.

"We on the Council over the course of the past few years, we really stressed transparency and it would be nice to see if all other public entities would do the same."