Issues and Ideas
One of the great things about our community is that we do not lack for ideas. From the earliest days, Buffalo and this region was a up from the bootstraps community and for the most part, public engagement in decision making has always been a benefit of living, working, and investing here. We, as a people, have always been able to come up with important ideas that have promoted a thriving economy and a positive quality of life. Buffalo's Outer Harbor is a great example. Ever since the Horizon Commission in the 1980's we have had positive and productive public engagement in planning and design strategies for the Outer Harbor. We have spent 100's of millions of dollars, and 100's of thousands of hours working toward creating a beautiful, dynamic, and inclusive city. The Our Outer Harbor Campaign intends to honor and continue that legacy by engaging the public and the community at large in defining and characterizing our outer harbor, which is currently predominantly owned by public agencies. Please feel free to step up and get involved.
Public Meeting Review
On September 28, 2016 Our Outer Harbor held the first of what we anticipate to be a series of public meetings to discuss ideas and issues about the Outer Harbor. the intent to to continue to engage and inform a broad regional community that is impacted by Outer Harbor Development decisions. We are using these meetings and exchanges to continue to encourage the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to engage the public and the community in a transparent process that will help to ensure the greatest public benefit of public dollars used to create the public lands of the Outer Harbor. To see an overview of what was discussed CLICK HERE
Sadly, one of the first things that we face in 2016 is an obstacle. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, a state agency that is the designated planner for Buffalo's Outer Harbor has all but ignored the public. In 2014 they did hold a short series of public presentations that allowed the public to comment on what was delivered as a privatized development plan that would have turned the outer harbor into a thousand blocks of private condo's. This was soundly rejected by the public and the ECHDC was forced to retract the aggressive schedule which would have created a nightmarish sprawl of condo's throughout the outer harbor from Times Beach and Wilkeson Pointe Park, to the Small Boat Harbor and beyond. If the public had not stepped up, shovels would have been in the ground in 2015. While the public backlash slowed the ECHDC down, it has not stopped them. This late summer they have issued an RFP for new contractors to develop a lighter quicker cheaper approach to marketing and developing the outer harbor. The public has once again been shut out of the process, and we are fighting to have our voices heard above the din of the private sector represented by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. Today the ECHDC claims that they have no obligation or responsibility to meet with the pubic about plans and development on the Outer Harbor. If they insist on operating in a non-transparent way, we will work hard to make sure that the public is engaged, ideas are shared, and decisions will be appropriate to ensure that we have the best waterfront that we can have. Social and economic justice will meet with environmental sanity. Together we this will help us to build a thriving, economically valuable to all "Outer Harbor".
Privatization and the Public Trust
If you have ever been to Buffalo's Inner Harbor you may have noticed a parade of tall buildings that surround the waters there. Stretching to LaSalle Park, this gated community represents how not to develop the waterfront areas. This private development is for the rich, and it blocks access to the water for the rest of the community. The ECHDC plans for the Outer Harbor represent this same mentality and economic strategy It is clear that without scrutiny, these publicly owned resources will be transferred to a few connected developers and wealthy investors, and the profoundly important public access to our beautiful Outer Harbor will be lost for generations.The Public Trust Doctrine should rule our decisionmaking. More on The Public Trust Doctrine Click Here
Our Region is a Part of a Large Bioregion
Our Outer Harbor is part of a greater bioregion. This is an important context with which to characterize our ecological, social, and economic values. Our wealth and our future capacity to thrive, develop, and be the best that we can be, including decisions on waterfront development, depends on both understanding and embracing this concept. The Buffalo Outer Harbor is located at the confluence of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and the Buffalo River. The area was for thousands of years -until about 200 years ago, part of a delta complex that emptied creeks and streams into Lake Erie and the rivers. The watershed stretches into the hills of Wyoming County and beyond. This area is a major part of the Great Lakes, which contain nearly 20% of the earth's fresh surface water. These lakes contribute to a fundamental hemispheric dynamic linking life and biodiversity to atmosphere, weather, and human populations. Many species of wildlife including migrating birds come through here. Some travel from the boreal west coast of North America, and the arctic, to Central America, the Amazon Basin, and the tip of South America. What happens here truly helps to connect global ecology, culture, and economic well-being. Our stewardship must recognize on this bioregional context.
Environmental Sustainability and the Promise of Appropriate Economic Development
Climate change is bringing a new urgency to our development decisions. It is also clear that as we move deeper into the 21at Century we have a number of environmental issues that effect the cleanliness of our lakes and waters, our air, and our public costs related to providing clean-up and remediation. SEQRA (see below) is supposed to be the opportunity to engage in discussions that will help guide us toward both environmentally sane decisions, public accountability, and economic development that will help us to thrive as a community and culture moving into the coming decades. What is clear is that the Great Lakes, representing 20% of the entire earth's fresh surface water continue to decline. they flow through our front yard and we have both the opportunity and a responsibility to create conservation leadership. Because they are our heritage.
Public Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)
The New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), is a law that is designed to protect both the publics health and well-being, and public investment. It requires that a Lead Agency be determined and that the Lead Agency decides whether or not there is any impact on the environment, or quality of life of any given community by any given project. Lead Agencies are almost always government agencies or their designees. If the Lead Agency determines that there is any impact, a positive declaration is issued which requires the project developer to further engage in studies and remediation. this includes public review and scrutiny through public comment periods. If there is a determination of no impact, a negative declaration is issued which means the project can proceed without further review, remediation, or public scrutiny. Outer Harbor Development including the original ECHDC Perkins and Will Plan, and the recently issued Lighter Quicker and Cheaper plan has been operating under the assumption of a negative declaration issued by the ECHDC. This is a blatantly misleading and secret process, skirting both the intention and facts of the law, done in the darkened hallways of the agency, and in full partnership with private developers which are the ECHDC's prime clients. More on SEQRA Click Here
Green, Greener, Greenest!
The people of Buffalo and our wider region have been looking at, thinking about, planning for, and investing in the best community that we can be for decades. We celebrate our diversity and our ability to work, live, and prosper together. We celebrate our people. We celebrate our environment. We are leaders and have great opportunities to grow into a world class Great Lakes community, with a world class, unique to Buffalo context. Now is a great time to open up a wide ranging community discussion about what our outer harbor is, what it should be, and what it could be.
During the last three decades, the public has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into these publicly owned outer harbor and Buffalo River lands and waters. This money has gone to help engage the public, to help to clean up industrial heritage pollution, and to provide for ecological restoration projects. We know that this has driven the value of the Outer Harbor upwards. We know that green space near urban areas drive property values upwards. A greener Outer Harbor makes for a more valuable city.
Now is a great time to urge wide community engagement on ideas and strategies to move forward on the outer harbor.
We will be holding press briefings, meetings, informational events, and will host a series of public meetings about the outer harbor. Schedule to be announced soon.
We invite you to participate and help us build a place and a unique legacy that that will benefit a broad spectrum of local residents, taxpayers, and visitors for generations to come.
For More on the Our Outer Harbor development principles, CLICK HERE
Principles to Build On
The Public Trust, keep public land public, and let the public help decide how to best use it. Millions of dollars of public money have been spent and will continue to be spent on the Outer Harbor and our shorelines. Lets respect that investment and make sure that the most public benefit comes from any development that occurs on the Outer Harbor.
Principles to Build On
Respect and support the integrity of the environment!
The Outer Harbor and its shorelines are the critical edges between a powerful urban center and wilderness. This wilderness and the biodiversity that it protects is the Great lakes. Water is life. The Outer Harbor is a unique gateway to the natural world that sustains us. We have to learn to be better stewards. This area a critical flyway for vast numbers of North American migratory birds and beneficial insects including pollinators. How we treat, preserve, and enhance nature, and our connections between human civilization to the natural world will determine how well future generations survive. Will we suffer or thrive? Our decisions will effect quality of life through our attention to climate change issues, clean water, clean air, economic justice. How we act to use and enhance these resources now is important.
Principles to Build on
Respect and involve the public on all decisions! This includes ongoing public information sessions, public decision making opportunities and development decisions made transparently. Part of this involves developing publicly vetted plans for the waterfronts of Buffalo and our region, including and especially Our Outer Harbor. It also involves following the intent of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the need to fully embrace the purpose and intent of the law so that the public can remain involved and vigilant. Instead of random acts of development, let’s create a shared vision toward which acts of preservation and development move.
The Revival Fields is a vision of the Outer Harbor as a Public Trust – a waterfront that belongs to everybody. It is based on an ecological design process reinforces the natural rehabilitation of landscapes. It carves out extraordinary spaces for humans in the way Olmsted has taught us, and connects paths in a network throughout the site. It preserves and enhances the places that nature is already restoring such as Times Beach and the Cottonwood Copse, and protects those areas we have worked to restore such as the Bell Slip. It places human activity near the water wherever possible and promotes active recreation away from fragile ecologies. Large areas of our Outer Harbor formerly used for the Port of Buffalo, lay fallow. This neglect left room for the process of ecological restoration and the emergence of various habitats like Times Beach Nature Preserve and Tifft Nature Preserve, both enhanced by active restoration and preservation interventions. More information coming soon.
The Revival Fields proposal focuses on the portion of the Outer Harbor bordered by the Bell Slip Preserve and the Seaway Piers.
The Bell Slip Nature Preserve
The Bell Slip is one of the most unique and ecologically sensitive places on the Outer Harbor. Millions of dollars of public money have been spent on fish and wildlife habitat restoration and shoreline stabilization. The paved Greenway Trail goes through this area opening up vistas and nature to bikes and pedestrians. The fact is that this investment has worked. Fish, mammals, birds, pollinators, and other insects including rare beetles are here in abundance and have come to depend on this location. Rare native plants, including the Spotted Bee-balm can be found in the old sand habitats and emerging cottonwood forests here. For more on the Bell Slip Nature Preserve CLICK HERE
If we build it they will come! Imagine a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine sanctuary based right here in WNY. This proposed sanctuary would encompass parts of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and the entire U.S. portion of the Niagara River Strait. It would link proposed great Lakes marine sanctuaries in Presque Isle, Pa., and Oswego, NY. NOAA marine sanctuaries celebrate and protect biodiversity and history and heritage. They come with no new use restrictions and will bolster the value of the region. Economic development is based on conservation, recreation, and tourism. Did we mention research and development? Our region could become the Woods Hole of the Great Lakes. partnerships between governments, schools and universities, and the private sector could create leadership and positive economic consequences focused on conserving and protecting the vanishing cleanliness of the Great Lakes.for the full story, CLICK HERE.
Imagine this beautiful greenspace on the Outer Harbor. Apparently ECHDC cannot. Get the full story by clicking HERE
Build stuff that we can all use and benefit from!
Instead of a private glass tower, lets build Chicago's Navy Pier at the Freezer Queen and Terminals A&B sites- by Larry Brooks and James Carr
Why not create a dynamic public attraction that will provides services, amenities, and fun for local and regional residents and visitors? Besides, if you expect to swim at a sandy Lake Erie Beach, a water park here might be your only hope. read the whole original article here, which was carefully edited by the Buffalo News when it appeared in June of 2016. Read the full story, CLICK HERE