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What would you like to see on the Outer Harbor?

I’d like to throw my 2 cents into the debate about what to do or not do with the land on the Outer Harbor.
As it stands right now the land is not clean enough to support residential use. This is the main reason none of our home grown developers have put THEIR money into development of this land to date. I would venture to guess the costs of remediating the land to a level safe for residential development would run into the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. How does a developer make a profit and get a return on their investment when these costs are figured into the equation? They can’t. That’s why they haven’t done it. Of course if the developers can get someone else to cover these costs (i.e. the taxpayers) then they are all on board and the mantra becomes – “build baby build”. Can the taxpayers afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars so that a very few (less than 1% of the population) will be able to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in profits?  I say no. Don’t forget that in seven years the owners of the Buffalo Bills will be demanding a new stadium.
One idea I have not heard: A world class FRESH water Aquarium, research and educational center.  The land where the old Pier restaurant stood would be a perfect spot.  I have not found one aquarium in the U.S. that is accessible by boat. How exciting would it be to have that feather in our cap?
The land is clear and the pier exists. Ownership could remain in the hands of our city or county government while being managed by a consortium made up of UB, Riverkeeper, and the DEC.
The Atlanta aquarium was built for $40 million dollars. Over the years they have invested another $100 million. Today the Atlanta Aquarium is one of the largest Aquariums in the U.S. Unfortunately it is a salt water Aquarium (I prefer fresh water). Chicago’s aquarium is focused on fresh water species and has an expansive educational program. I’m hoping to visit in the very near future. But Chicago doesn’t have a pier allowing boaters to access their facility. We would!
The rest of the land should be planted with native plants and used as parkland. We already have the Bell Slip, and Wilkeson Point. Let’s expand on that for now. Much room remains in the core of the city and inner harbor for development. Residential development on the outer harbor is, as my dad would say, A PIPE DREAM! Unless the taxpayers allow their elected representatives to give away the land and open up the taxpayers coffers to cover the cost of remediation, the outer harbor will remain too costly to develop into residential units.
As for the upkeep of the outer harbor park a portion of the profits from our world class Aquarium could be used to maintain the trails, refuse collection, and the minimal amount of grass cutting.
So in conclusion: Park land supported by the world class; “Great Lakes Fresh Water Aquarium, Educational and Research Center @ Buffalo”.  And that’s my 2 cents.

From Matthew L., A Lifelong resident and proud Tradesman of WNY.

The views expressed in these are of the public, and not specifically put forth by the 21st Century Park. 

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