Not Halftime Yet

28 May

The Erie Canal Harbor Terminal park is now open for sightseeing. The transformation from gravel parking lot and 70s era museum facility to historical recreation/interpretation of what was once there is truly phenomenal. Not just because it looks nice, but because it is a major downtown waterfront project that engendered controversy yet somehow managed to get done.

So far.

There’s a boardwalk, informational signs, a waterfall, a park, and the naval museum. There’s a hot dog stand, too. These are all positive steps towards an improved, attractive inner harbor. Now comes another hard part.

The historical aspect of this area gets people there, but now it’s important to keep people there and getting them to spend their money. In order to do that, we need buildings and shops and bars and restaurants. Bass Pro or no Bass Pro, it’s important that Benderson and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation begin making palpable progress on the remainder of the Canal Side project. That means bringing the Aud down, bringing the Donovan down, and starting work on what will be on that block under the Skyway.

So, cheer this progress, and it is truly amazing that any of this got done at all in this town – a town that will take any mediocre non-event – like the removal of driftwood from an unswimmable beach, or the fact that the marina is open 12 months per year instead of 7, or where the mayor holds a press conference to announce pay & display parking meters. The inner harbor project is moving. There is something built there.

But realize that it’s only the 1st out of 4 quarters.

27 Responses to “Not Halftime Yet”

  1. al-alo May 28, 2008 at 8:21 am #

    please, please tell me why non-museum people are in charge of developing one of buffalo’s most important historic sites? why isnt the national park service running the show?

  2. Merr May 28, 2008 at 9:05 am #

    Next up, bringing down the Skyway. Right?

  3. Adam K May 28, 2008 at 9:11 am #


    The preservation community in Buffalo basically had total control over this entire project, from the drawing of the initial site plan to the vetoing of any and all modifications.

    what else do you want?

  4. Adam K May 28, 2008 at 9:16 am #

    I think this is beautiful. Brilliant and Beautiful.

    I credit First Larry Quinn, Second Jordan Levy, as well as Brian Higgins and Chuck Schumer in particular, for pushing and pushing and pushing this project through all of the lawsuits instead of giving up.

    A special shout out to Higgins specifically, for discovering the problems in the power authority and then suing so that we could do this without taking a dime out of the City, State, or Federal kittys.

  5. James May 28, 2008 at 10:13 am #

    We took a walk to check out the new park and it was great to see development. However, there was something gloomy about the experience. It was like something was hanging over me like a cloud…the skyway. I wanted to take a hammer and chisel away at one of the pillars.

  6. Chaz May 28, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    When you actually make a difference in the WNY community beyond writing this rtardious blog, critcize others.

    I forgot, you did save Santa’s Park. A monumental contribution to WNY on par with removing drift wood.

  7. N. May 28, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    “This site marks the west end of the canal opened in 1825. It carried products and people between Lake Erie and the Hudson River.”

    Whoever wrote those two lines needs A) a lesson in grammar, and B) a deeper appreciation for history.

  8. Buffalopundit May 28, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    @Chaz – what difference have you made in the WNY community? Your IP is from out of town.

    I never insinuated that I made any big difference in this community, so your criticism of me is misdirected and intellectually dishonest. It’s also a poor analogy, because I did that Santa’s Park project with no help from elected officials and private donations of time, supplies, and money.

    But if you agree that Byron Brown and other politicians – people who are elected and handsomely paid to make a difference on a full time basis – ought to congratulate themselves at every ribbon-cutting for each underwhelming piece of “progress”, then I think you’re on the wrong track.

  9. indabuff May 28, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    I like it so far…but agree with James…I love what has been done with the War Memorials and Naval Park…

  10. hank May 28, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    It’s Progress–no way to be all things to all people. It is a start. should have been done 50 years ago, but that’s water down the river.

    I agree with those who think the next step is to get rid of the white elephant above the site. It should never have been built in the first place. Anyone who can read a history book can see it’s true.

    I also agree that more needs to come into the site to make it year-round viable and a “Place to go”.

    Chaz–I disagree with Alan on many items of national scope, but if you’re from out of town this is the site that has the scoop first on local issues, and IMO he’s proven himself to be a force for change and good in the area. One man can only do so much.

    So, kindly go fuck yourself and look for your information somewhere else if you think that way. WTF?

  11. KevinP May 28, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    Thanks, Chaz. I always wondered how “rtardious” was spelled.

  12. Starbuck May 28, 2008 at 12:14 pm #

    Pundit, I agree with your praise of what’s there so far but I have doubts about the following –

    …it’s important that Benderson and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation begin making palpable progress on the remainder of the Canal Side project

    If taxpayer subsidies offered via Benderson “succeed” and result in people spending retail money around the canal terminus instead of on Elmwood, on Hertel, or at Walden Galleria, or in Williamsville… how is the area as a whole better off?

    Why is that a good use of tax money and government power if it just shifts spending from store owners in other parts of this area down to there?

    Why shouldn’t the marketplace be left to determine where stores, restaurants, bars, etc. decide to locate? Why should government agencies try to micromanage that?

  13. al-alo May 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm #


    and see what they came up with? that bridge and that radar screen. uffff. lets not miss those steel retaining & seawalls. ugh.

    interpretive signage, but no interpretive center.

    seems to me that the locals could handle it.

  14. al-alo May 28, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    woooops, i meant *couldnt*

    what do they say about people who live in glass erie canals?

  15. Used to live in Buffalo May 28, 2008 at 12:39 pm #

    Hey, it looks pretty nice. I can’t believe the project has come this far. But why did they go for the historically inaccurate slip when they unearthed the real one several years ago? Is there a logical explanation? Maybe it doesn’t really matter, the Corps of Engineers changes the courts of natural waterways all the time, so to change a man made one, big deal. I’ve never heard cries that the current course of the Mississippi is “historically inaccurate.”

    That sign is a hoot though. It must represent a compromise draft. It doesn’t give one ANY sense of how historically important the Canal was.

  16. Adam K May 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm #


    Have you been there? There’s an interpretive center right there!

  17. Chris Smith May 28, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    Here we go…the “What have you done for Buffalo?” crowd steps in.

  18. Chaz May 28, 2008 at 1:38 pm #


    The county did nothing for you with Santa’s Park? You must be sucking on the same douche Hank has. Would you like me to point out the ways?

    I live in WNY.


    This site has the scooe on many things? You should switch douches you commie.

    Buffalo Pundit rarely has a scoop on any matter. Most of what he writes about are things he lifts from other sources.

    Fucks like you sit behind a computer screen and say all kind of crap. In person, you would crap yourself then eat it.

    If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it.

  19. Buffalopundit May 28, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    @Chaz – Go ahead. What did the county do for me? Apart from giving me permission to hold it there, what did the county do to facilitate Santa’s Park in 2005 and 2006?

    Yeah, I don’t scoop anything because this is a blog. Not a news portal. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it.

  20. al-alo May 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm #


    haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! interp center! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

    holy cow, i almost pooed. inter center. too much, man. too much.

  21. al-alo May 28, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    these are interpretive centers:

    not a couple of poorly thought out signs

  22. Adam K May 28, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    Apparently you missed the 2 giant museum buildings.

  23. Chris Smith May 28, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    The funny thing about guys like Chaz is that if you take the bait and respond in depth with what you have done to better your community, they will just critique it anyhow. You’ll hear “That doesn’t matter” or “That was bullshit” or some other such tripe.

    See this thread for example:

    In the end, the amount of one’s involvement with the community should not dictate whether or not that person has the right to criticize or comment on an issue or project. What Alan wrote above was a fair assessment of the progress and the project as a whole. I think it’s fair for those of who have lived in other areas to laugh when the people of Buffalo so intensely celebrate iterative progress or small minded bullshit like new parking meters on Hertel.

    If you don’t see the pathetic nature of a big city Mayor showing up for a ribbon cutting of every corner store or small piece of news, YOU’RE part of the problem.

    The editorial staff at WNYM is happy that Newell Beach at Sense of Place Marina has been assembled and we’re happy to see progress on the waterfront. Seriously, I’m not kidding. You can’t possibly spin either development as bad news and Pundit did not try to do so.

    We’re also wondering why it took so fucking long and when in the holy rolling fuck we’ll get a destination that is truly a change agent. We’re also going to keep writing about whatever suits our fancy and commenting and criticizing when its appropriate. Hopefully, one day you’ll also find some humor in watching people settle for “Better than nothing”.

  24. Adam K May 28, 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    And you do under stand that the remaining $400,000,000 of development on the site includes another museum, right?

  25. al-alo May 28, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    @Adam k,

    2 museum buildings = naval museum, not erie canal museum. i know, since ive visited them.

    apparently u havent been down there yourself, silly!

    and i wonder what amusement park like product that the well meaning nonprofessionals and pseudoprofessionals will create with their share of the remaining budget? its not their fault they dont have the tools to do all this right. it is there fault for not realizing they need more help.

    what will they’ll agree to? erie canal bidets? a typhoid and cholera themed roller coaster?

    ill say it again, why isnt this in the hands of the National Park Service or the NYS office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation? How about even a nonprofit with museum and history professionals?

  26. Mark May 28, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    whoever wrote the erie canal sign is awesome!

  27. Chris Smith May 28, 2008 at 5:46 pm #

    My version of the canal sign:

    “There used to be a canal here. Stuff happened. Enjoy walking around and whatnot. Bye”

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