Buffalo’s Waterfront: The Pause that Refreshes

16 Nov

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has agreed to Mark Goldman’s call for a pause, and set up some public hearing times and dates.  If you want to see the “modified plan” being tabled, click here.  The ECHDC’s press release follows:

ECHDC Tables Vote on Modified Plan, Announces a Series of Open Houses

General Public invited to attend sessions and provide input into waterfront development plans

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) announced today that it will delay its vote on the Canal Side Modified General Project Plan (MGPP.) The MGPP emphasizes the development of public infrastructure on the Aud Block, including a series of public canals, walkways and a parking garage. In order to solicit more input from members of the Western New York community, ECHDC will be sponsoring a series of open houses over the next two weeks.

The open houses will begin Wednesday, November 17, 2010 and continue through Wednesday, November 24, 2010. For two hours on each of those days, the public will be invited to participate in a public session that will be attended by representatives from ECHDC. These sessions, which will be simulcast on the web and transcribed, will allow the public an opportunity to convey their ideas and opinions regarding waterfront development.

“Our goal is to provide the community with a forum to express their views,” said ECHDC Chairman Jordan Levy. “These new sessions have grown out of the feedback we have received from the community and an opportunity for the citizens of Western New York to make their opinions known directly to ECHDC, without any filter. Coming on the heels of our successful public hearings, we wanted to extend the opportunity for both ourselves and for members of the community to continue this dialogue before any decisions are made. Board members will be provided with transcripts from these sessions in advance of the final vote on the MGPP, and it is my expectation that they will use them as a resource to aid in their decision. The members of the ECHDC board are stewards of public resources and public dollars and they seek to be fully informed as they weigh their vote.”

In addition to the open house sessions, ECHDC will conduct a series of meetings with elected officials and community leaders which will include invited representatives from several leading Western New York organizations and advocacy groups. Stanton Eckstut, the master architect for Canal Side, and a nationally recognized innovator in public design, will also attend these sessions in order to fully inform them of the development that ECHDC is proposing on the Inner Harbor.

The schedule for the open house sessions will be as follows:

·        Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

·        Thursday, November 18, 2010, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

·        Friday, November 19, 2010, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

·        Monday, November 22, 2010, 10:00-12:00 p.m.

·        Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

·        Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 10:00-12:00 p.m.

The sessions will be held at the offices of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, 95 Perry St., Suite 500, Buffalo, NY 14203. There is free, two-hour parking on Mississippi St. on the side of the building.

Anyone who is interested in presenting their ideas to ECHDC, but is unable to attend one of the public sessions is encouraged to contact:

Erich Weyant, Assistant Director, Communications

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
95 Perry St., Suite 500, Buffalo, NY  14203
716.846.8262 fax

“It remains our intention to make certain that Canalside is a model for world class re-development projects across America.  It was our intention when we began this project almost nine years ago to build a place that Buffalonians and all people from throughout Western New York will be proud of and will take full advantage of for generations to come. Adding a few more weeks to the schedule can only serve to help us to achieve that objective” said Levy.

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is a subsidiary agency of Empire State Development Corporation whose vision is to revitalize Western New York’s waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo based on the region’s legacy of pride, urban significance and natural beauty.

23 Responses to “Buffalo’s Waterfront: The Pause that Refreshes”

  1. Brian Castner November 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Yes, clearly we haven’t done enough talking and listening.

    Anyone who pushes for entirely organic growth, and no ECHDC driven plan, and no government subsidies, needs to answer this basic question: why do you think any business will build anything down there now, when the market has chosen not to for 50 years? The market says that land should be a gravel lot, no matter its historic-iness.

    • Christopher Smith November 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

      Will these open houses be potluck?

  2. Brian Castner November 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    No, the Levy’s, and Rich’s and Quinn’s have to provide all the food. Because they’re rich. And evil. And . . .rich. And love cars and hate buses and the people who ride them.

  3. Andrew Kulyk November 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    You’re absolutely righ Brian… In 1976 we welcomed the tall ships to the new Erie Basin Marina for the Bicentennial… looked in amazement at this newly accesible water edge sapce and said “let’s talk about it”. In 1989 Gorski’s Horizon’s Waterfront Commission laid out all sorts of plans, including a bridge from the foot of Main St through that grain elevator and out to Fuhrmann. “Let’s talk about it.” Griffin suggested tunneling Rte 5. And now Inner Harbor master plans of 1999, 2001, 2004, Canalside 2007 and shazzam, a “modified” plan that will be scorned, villfied and lawsuited to death. But “let’s talk about it.” We will all be fucking dead before anything happens.

  4. BobbyCat November 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    It’s certainly true that issues are talked to death and nothing seems to happens. Could it be that the ideas in the various plan(s) fail because (1) they lack imagination; (2) the blue ribbon panel/board consist of political appointees and not planners.

    Are there professional planners with waterfront experience on the ECHDC Board of Directors? Their names are Jordan Levy, Lawrence Quinn, David J.Colligan,Maureen O.Hurley, Michael DiVirgilio, Dennis Mullen, Julie M. Barrett-O’Neill, Mindy Rich, The Mayor and County Exec.

    I asked this question elsewhere but received no answers.

  5. PJ November 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Yes let’s table it for another 50 years.

  6. DanB November 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Totally off topic but I just wanted to thank all of you shills for Cuomo who now have helped bring about a Committee on health made up of:

    Steve Acquario, Executive Director, Association of Counties (Medicaid)Karen Ballard, President, New York State Nurses AssociationPam Brier, CEO, Maimonides Medical CenterTracey Brooks, President and C.E.O., Planned ParenthoodLaRay Brown, Senior Vice President, Health and Hospitals CorporationGuillermo Chacon, President, Latino Commission on AIDSKelli Conlin, Executive Director, NARAL Pro Choice New YorkSusan Constantino, President and C.E.O., Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York StateMichael Dowling CEO, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health SystemTino Hernandez, President and C.E.O., Samaritan VillageJames Introne, President and C.E.O., ArchcareJames Kaskie, President and C.E.O., Kaleida HealthDr. Paul Kronenberg, President, Crouse HospitalBernard Kruger, MD, New York-Presbyterian HospitalBarbara Landreth, MD, New York-Presbyterian HospitalMark McClellan, Director, Health Care Reform, Brookings InstituteDave McNally, New York Manager of Governmental Affairs, AARPAbby S. Milstein, Partner, Constantine CannonCarol Raphael, President and C.E.O., NYC Visiting Nurses AssociationKen Raske, President, Greater New York Hospital AssociationDr. Steven Safyer, C.E.O., Montefiore Medical CenterDaniel Sisto, President, Healthcare Association of New York StateNorman Straker, MD, New York-Presbyterian HospitalPat Wang, President and C.E.O., HealthfirstFran Weisberg, Executive Director, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency

    Out of 25 people at least 22 of them represent health care unions, hospitals, nursing homes or health care advocacy groups.  And this list leaves off the president of 1199 who it was later clarified IS on the committee.  I am sure these people are all going to volunteer that NYS is spending too much on health care and that it should be cut – NOT.

    When Barak Obama named Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers to his administration it was pretty clear to me nothing good would come of it.  This does the same for my view of the Cuomo administration.  These people will bring about as much meaningful reform to health care in NYS as Geithner and Summers brought about with the US financial system, which is to say, not much.  

    I guess all those campaign contributions to Cuomo counted for something after all.

    • Alan Bedenko November 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

      Yes, shocking that Cuomo would retain health professionals to discuss health care. Maybe Paladino would have retained Jim Ostrowski and Uncle Floyd.

  7. DanB November 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Nice try but there are plenty of types of people with expertise in health care not on this list – economists specializing in the economics of health care, people from the Federal CMS, Medicaid directors from other states (all of whom spend less and get better results), experts from the Kaiser Family Foundation, and people from the Empire Center for NYS Policy who have studied NY health care extensively.
    But nope, under Cuomo only piglets at the trough need apply.

     Seriously, couldn’t you at least pretend to care about any of the issues facing this state?

    • Alan Bedenko November 16, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

      And those hacks from Columbia-Presbyterian, Kaleida, Montefiore, and those whiny CP whiners!

  8. DanB November 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

    huh? not sure I understand your point.

    Is your point that somehow people from New York Presbyterian Hospital, Kaleida Healthcare and Montifiore Hospital are disinterested experts on health care?  If it is, you couldn’t be more wrong.  NYPH gets 25% of its revenue from Medicaid, consistently advocates and lobbies for additional government funding of health care, and you can be sure their three representatives on this committee are not going there to talk about cuts or the need to reign in health care spending.

    This committee is so lacking in any semblance of balance it disgusting and infuriating.  Of 26 people on the committee 22 of them represent organizations that make a large portion of their income via Medicaid and have a long history of lobbying for increased state spending on health care.  There isn’t even a pretense of balance here.

  9. jhorn November 17, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    bobbycat- levy, venture capitalist; quinn, managing partner, minority owner sabres, real estate developer; colligan, corporate attorney; divirglio, vp for bricklayers & allied craftworkers union local #3; mullen, ceo empire state development; barrett-o’neill, exec. director buff-niagara riverkeeper; hurley, vp rich products; so the short ans. is no planning experience on the board though they hopefully have access to a phalanx of planners, consultants, etc. Mr. Mullen has economic development experience, hopefully he was adamantly opposed to the big-box proposal.

  10. BobbyCat November 17, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    @jhorn. Thank you. Apparently ,there’s not much planning experience on the ECHDC planning board. But they know people….planners and consultants. Like Benderson? That’s so typical of boards appointed by a governor who doesn’t much care about Buffalo or its denizens.

    The next time somebody says “where are plans for Canal Side”, I can say ‘Where are the planners?” I’m not trying to denigrate the ECHDC Board. I assume they are working in good faith. But when Mr. Goldman comes to town, people listen to his ideas because he speaks from experience. This Board apparently has little experience in waterfront projects. The ECHDC mission statement says that this waterfront project will guide the development of downtown Buffalo. Why would we trust the future of downtown Buffalo to a Board with little or no experience?

  11. pirate's code November 17, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    @bobbycat — Your “where are the waterfront planners on the waterfront planning committee” question presumes that there is a wealth of such experience here in Western New York.  Since there has been no real planning, and damned little development, on the waterfront for, oh, say, a century, I’m not sure who you would have do this work.  ‘Cuz you know damned well that the local immune system would kick in if…gasp…the dreaded outside experts were suggested.

    This is another symptom of this region’s “we can’t do anything until I get what I want, but I don’t really know what I want so we can’t do anything” approach to almost any opportunity.

  12. BobbyCat November 17, 2010 at 10:46 am #


    Good points. Maybe Buffalo has few if any planners with waterfront experience but there are planners, people who teach planning, developers and architects and a plethora of idea people. You can invite the Frank Gehrys to visit and chat. Besides they might like to revisit Richardson and Wright’s works.

    For what it’s worth, I have heard very few ideas that I think would work – especially all these museum ideas that look good on paper until reality intrudes. “Hey kids, we’re going to the Maritime Museum in Buffalo!”


    But I think I’ll know a good idea when I see it – kinda like Christmas shopping. Then again, who am I to judge what will succeed? That’s part of the problem. Everybody thinks they can design stuff – a house or a waterfront, but of course, we can’t. There are only a few Frank Gehrys’. So you need people on the board who know what can work and more importantly – what won’t work. . Otherwise you have the blind leading the blind. I say bring-in all the pros you can get. Bribe them, cajole them, kidnap them. We need smart ideas that flow from great imaginations.

  13. peteherr November 17, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Timelines, timelines, timelines…..deadlines, deadlines, deadlines……and maybe a good place to get a cheeseburger.

  14. AL November 17, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    If you zone it, they will come.

  15. Hank November 17, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    I’ve got a cousin who recently retired as chief regional planner for Los Angeles County. Got his undergrad degree from UB (raised in Amherst), Masters in Urban Planning from UNC Chapel Hill, which should delight all you libbies. Bet he would be interested in looking at the plans, or lack of. Still loves Buffalo, went from being raised by Democrat parents to being a true blue California Liberal. I’ll send him this link. WNY media.net gets a look at his credentials, they’ll be licking his taint to bring him back to town.

  16. Rob November 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    What happened to the Taco Truck Mall or whatever it was called? 😦

  17. mike in Buffalo November 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Why does there have to be economic development in the Erie Canal/Harbor plan? We already have enough retail, commercial, and hotel business in the city, don’t we? Why do we need any “anchor tenant”? Here is my input, build the cheapest possible public space that people would actually want to spend time in. Make it cost as little as possible to maintain. 

    You guys who say there is too much talk about these kinds of decisions are funny. We have so many problems in Buffalo because we went forward with terrible ideas. Why not more talk, if it prevents things from ever happening. Let’s all talk until our ears and eyes are bleeding. I’m up for that if it prevents another skyway from being built, or the 33, the 198, the 190, or the peace bridge expansion, or UB in amherst or the Ralph in Orchard Park, or HSBC tower.


  18. jhorn November 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    @mike in buffalo- great points! if there is going to be retail (and i think the city is hunting for tax dollars so there will be continued pressure for some retail paradigm) it should come after public space development all of which needs to be FREE.

    @bobbycat- i’d feel better about the good faith efforts of the board if they hadn’t pushed the bass pro plan in the face of strong disapproval from the community and hadn’t followed up the failure of bass pro with the pitch to ikea. and if Mr. Levy hadn’t stated at the aspirations and inspirations discussion that he has 10 more pitchees for his big-box anchor store concept.

  19. Jesse November 18, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    JFC… the reason nothing’s being done down there is (a) because of the cost to clean up after the last mess – costs imposed mostly by regulation and government, and (b) because ANY time someone wants to do something, we have to fight it out and piss and moan.

    You think Buffalo became the most important inland port in the world for a couple decades via central fucking planning?

    Here’s my solution:

    1. Build basic goddamned infrastructure – a nice little street grid they got going down there now. Sewer (that we can dump on the beach in summer!), electricity, internet tubes.

    2. Break up the land into nice easily-digestible parcels.

    3. Put it on the market, cheap. No stupid goddamned zoning, no stupid CDAs, union set-asides, blah blah blah blah. Just put it on the market and tell the market to go to town. I’d rather have a shitty looking Walmart where people CAN ACTUALLY WORK AND BUY SHIT than a gravel parking lot.

    If you don’t like what teh Evil Markets will do, get together with all your pals at Tim T’s house, ECHDC mixers, Riverkeeper canoe trips, and pool your money and buy some of the parcels. Then you can do whatever the F you want.


  1. WNYMedia Canalside Input « WNYMedia.net - November 18, 2010

    […] Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is taking a pause to listen to the community. Outstanding. Through out this process, clearly the one event that has […]

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