Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) and the City of Buffalo on Monday submitted a joint proposal in response to the request for proposals issued by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) for its 384 acres of waterfront land holdings on Buffalo's outer harbor. The joint proposal was filed by the 4 p.m. December 17 deadline.
Together, the two entities propose that ECHDC acquire title to the property offered in the RFP and that the City and ECHDC will enter into a memorandum of agreement regarding specific responsibilities for the operation, maintenance and future development of the property.
"The City and ECHDC share an interest in revitalizing the City of Buffalo waterfront," said Mayor Byron Brown and ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia in a joint statement. "We believe that an appropriate mix of land uses throughout the property will ensure public access while providing business growth opportunity that create jobs and a return on investment--both financially and quality of life--to the taxpayers of the City and State of New York. We look forward to discussing this joint proposal with the NFTA and working toward the transfer of the property to ECHDC."
The NFTA earlier this year decided to sell the Outer Harbor property, as it continues to focus on its primary mission of running the region's bus system, Metro Rail line and operations at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Niagara Falls International Airport. In August, the NFTA sent out bid packages to the City of Buffalo, Erie County, ECHDC and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Erie County and the state parks agency both declined to bid.
Congressman Brian Higgins called Monday's announcement a turning point for Buffalo's Outer Harbor. Congressman Higgins is calling on the NFTA to act on this item at their meeting in January to allow plans and progress to begin this spring.
"The best news associated with this agreement is that NFTA's 55-year hold on Buffalo's Outer Harbor waterfront will finally, at long last, come to an end," said Congressman Higgins. "With this agreement, we can continue to build upon what the public really wants at the water's edge: an opening of the door for substantial capital investment at the Outer Harbor toward the goal of greater public access to our region's most substantial natural resource."
The selection of the successful purchaser will be made by the NFTA's Board of Commissioners. The NFTA's goal is to select the successful purchaser by February 2013, followed by execution of any necessary agreements to facilitate transfer of title. Given this timeframe and the NFTA's goal to maximize public access and ensure minimal disruption to the users of waterfront facilities, the NFTA will operate the Small Boat Harbor for the 2013 boating season.
The details of the joint proposal will not be made public until the NFTA has reviewed the proposal.