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New Outer Harbor Park, Wilkeson Pointe, Now Open

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced that a new recreation space on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is now open to the public.  Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy, local officials and students from City Honors cut the ribbon and unveiled the site’s new name, “Wilkeson Pointe.” The state invited middle school classrooms from Buffalo Public Schools to name the site, which was formerly called “Parcel OH” and the winning submission came from the eighth grade classroom of Michael A. Serotte, a U.S. History Teacher at City Honors. Wilkeson Pointe is now open to the public from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
“As this administration works hard to breathe new life into Western New York and show businesses that New York is serious about revitalizing, rebuilding and remaking the Buffalo economy, it is also important that Western New Yorkers have a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors,” said Governor Cuomo. “Wilkeson Pointe is the City of Buffalo’s newest public, waterfront recreational space and I encourage both residents and visitors to visit and take in the unique views.”
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Following the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation’s guiding principle of public access, the site has public access along the entire length of the perimeter and water’s edge with various design components, including pedestrian paths, volleyball courts, natural playgrounds, wind sculptures and public docking.
Additional work on the site includes shoreline enhancements; removal and disposal of miscellaneous concrete slabs and foundations; installation of a soil cap over the entire site; installation of site utilities and site lighting; and the rehabilitation of an existing building into a comfort station and garage. The site also has six acres of shovel ready land for future mixed-use development. The contractor on this project was EdBauer Construction with a contract for approximately $2.8 million. Rosato Management Services Inc. is the operations, maintenance and security contractor on site.
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ECHDC engaged Buffalo Public Schools in identifying a name for the site. Many ideas were submitted and the winning submittal came from City Honors which chose “Wilkeson Pointe.” The waterfront recreation site’s name comes from Samuel Wilkeson who was a member of the Buffalo Harbor Company that brought the terminus of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, versus its rival Black Rock. In the early 1820s, Wilkeson led the project to improve the harbor to make it suitable as the canal terminus. He served in the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate and as Mayor of the City of Buffalo.
Lieutenant Governor Duffy was in Buffalo last fall to announce the start of construction on this site and mark the first step toward creating a shovel-ready, mixed-use development site. Less than a year later, it is now complete and open to the public.
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This project is ECHDC’s first construction project on the Outer Harbor. The site was made up of the Cargill Parcel purchased by ECHDC in 2008 and the former New York Power Authority (NYPA) parcel that housed the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom until it was relocated to a new site in Buffalo’s Old First Ward. The Power Authority’s efforts to relocate the ice boom stemmed from a 2006 agreement with Buffalo and Erie County. The agreement, in support of the federal relicensing of the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant, provided for $279 million of NYPA funding and other support for revitalizing the Buffalo waterfront and other improvement measures in the region.
The site also features an existing natural shoreline. ECHDC entered into contract with Nature’s Way on July 25, 2012 for a sand sustainability study at Gallagher Beach and this shoreline. The study began in September 2012 and was completed in December 2012. The state is now awaiting study results, which are anticipated by early summer 2013.
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Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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  • trobbflo

    The irony of the naming of this parcel and its opening date is too poignant for me to refrain from comment. The ECHDC, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), spends millions to erect whimsical wind sculptures and asphalt pathways on coastal wetlands and names it after Samuel Wilkeson – after acquiring and demolishing Wilkeson’s Prospect Hill home along Busti Avenue. The dedication of this beach takes place within hours of the opening of the “splash pad” at MLK Park. ESDC has acquired the local landmark Episcopal Church Home, along Busti Avenue, at $3 million above appraised value and has closed a request for proposals for demolition and construction related services. Admittedly the 4 – 5 million that was invested in this lovely waterfront park project is less than the 8 – 10 million that was spent on various attempts to re-water the iconic wading pool in Martin Luther King Park and the time frame was considerably less.The care, consideration, planning, execution, community involvement, and public process of these three seemingly unrelated public projects – pool – plaza- beach – tell an entire tale of purported public benefit, private influence, and the flow of dollars. I welcome public access and thoughtful development of our coastal resources – I applaud upgrades to our Olmsted parks and I eagerly await the denouement of the Peace Bridge/Phantom Plaza saga, but I believe the lessons we have learned here speak more to power, secret agendas, inside connections, and public relations charades than they do to holistic planning, inclusive participation, and public benefit. Wilkeson Pointe is aptly named and timely dedicated as monument to our modern political morass and the enduring public legacy of our political leadership.

  • trobbflo

    The irony of the naming of this parcel and its opening date is too poignant for me to refrain from comment. The ECHDC, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), spends millions to erect whimsical wind sculptures and asphalt pathways on coastal wetlands and names it after Samuel Wilkeson – after acquiring and demolishing Wilkeson’s Prospect Hill home along Busti Avenue. The dedication of this beach takes place within hours of the opening of the “splash pad” at MLK Park. ESDC has acquired the local landmark Episcopal Church Home, along Busti Avenue, at $3 million above appraised value and has closed a request for proposals for demolition and construction related services. Admittedly the 4 – 5 million that was invested in this lovely waterfront park project is less than the 8 – 10 million that was spent on various attempts to re-water the iconic wading pool in Martin Luther King Park and the time frame was considerably less.The care, consideration, planning, execution, community involvement, and public process of these three seemingly unrelated public projects – pool – plaza- beach – tell an entire tale of purported public benefit, private influence, and the flow of dollars. I welcome public access and thoughtful development of our coastal resources – I applaud upgrades to our Olmsted parks and I eagerly await the denouement of the Peace Bridge/Phantom Plaza saga, but I believe the lessons we have learned here speak more to power, secret agendas, inside connections, and public relations charades than they do to holistic planning, inclusive participation, and public benefit. Wilkeson Pointe is aptly named and timely dedicated as monument to our modern political morass and the enduring public legacy of our political leadership.

  • Buffaloian

    very nice, I especially like the picture of the leafless tree.

  • elmdog

    Great – Keep these coming…..Now we need a bike/pedestrian bridge from erie basin marina…..This will give the outer harbor continued flow of bikers/walkers/tourists…Then the outer harbor will soon become the real destination it deserves…hotel, residential, store etc……..

  • LouisTully

    So the Wilkeson name is significant enough to warrant a park in its namesake; but a 150 year-old house is meaningless?

  • LouisTully

    Let’s not even start on the splash pad. That shitshow should be enough reason to kick Brown’s ass out of office. Unfortunately, the Buffalo political landscape is a farce and he’ll end up back for another 4.
    Why don’t we have a term limit in Buffalo?

  • elmdog

    Just vote Tolbert …..

  • Tim

    I did an extensive tour the other day. About half the new plantings and trees throughout the outer harbor look like they are dead or dying. The nice paver walkway and gravel tree forest at union ship canal are already overcome by weeds. It’s not acceptable.
    That said, lots of work was going on and it generally looks great. I hope they take care of it.

  • grad94

    i liked the name until i saw that it was spelled with a pretentious ‘e’ at the end.

  • JSmith

    Absolutely. Can’t we squash this odious trend before it spreads any further?

  • Old First Ward

    I think Bernice Radle wants your vote.

  • Famous Amos

    I took a bike ride down there. Had to take Ohio St. because well there’s no other access point unless you want to spend $8 for the ferry. When I got there, there was a decent amount of people walking around. A few families with children were playing in the water. Several bicyclist were riding too. I really like the tall mound with the wind sculptures atop. The winding path was a fun ride up and down. It looks great down there. A permanent structure for restrooms is a welcome addition. Not sure if there were any water fountains. I’m not sure hhow itll hold up after some rain and them snow in the winter. Very cool. I wonder if the plan is to use the outer harbor for recreation and the inner harbor for commercial?

  • DeanerPPX

    Being the French word for tip and having English connotations in ballet and dance, I don’t mind it so much. There might not be much ballet going on there, but I can see some connection between play and dance. Unfortunately Wilkeson was of Irish descent so it doesn’t fit historically.
    As for similar variations like theatre, harbour, centre, etc I actually prefer them. When Noah Webster wrote his dictionary, he intentionally changed standard English spellings. It was partly to cater to less educated Americans who had trouble with the correct spelling, and partly to distinguish an American language different from its British ancestry.

  • MrGreenJeans

    It’s named after Samuel Wilkeson who lived on Niagara Square in a house demolished almost 100 years ago, not his grandson who lived on Busti 39 years after Grandpa died. There’s no irony here.
    As for “pointe”: fetcheth me ye olde barfe bagge.

  • Travelrrr

    It would be great to see some real cutting-edge modern art/sculptures incorporated into these parks (a la Millenium Park).

  • bfloboy86

    That seems to be how waterfront development is shaping up.

  • Old First Ward

    Driving through the area last week had me thinking, one lane in and one lane out. Getting to and from concerts on the outer harbor this year (starting with Guns and Roses on June 4th) will be extremely challenging. Traffic jams could be enormous. What about emergency vehicles getting in and out? The single lane concept with the razor sharp curb lines is not only intimidating to drive through but it would seem to be a very bad solution for speed control for large public area that will at times attract large crowds.
    One other thing occurred to me, this is definitely the place for a stadium complex. There is way too much space over there to be dedicated to just parks and trees. Besides, there is an enormous amount of space between the water and the road. Thinking it through even more I think the best spot for a stadium would be on the Freezer Queen and Port Authority sites. Both complexes should be or could be demolished and the stadium complex sited at this end of the outer harbor. It is the perfect fit for it there. With the docks already there the possibilities exist for boat excursions to games from Canada, and other ports on the lake. The views would be fabulous for television.

  • trobbflo

    True enough, the 1860’s era home of Col. Samuel H. Wilkeson was not the family mansion of Mayor Samuel Wilkeson, but it was a direct link to that prominent early Buffalo family. Geoff Kelly did an excellent article on the significance of the 771 Busti structure in Artvoice (2009). It may be putting too fine an edge on it, but it has not been 100 days since the demolition of the Busti home of Col. Wilkeson. Given the timing, the principals involved, and the unfortunate linkage in the alphabet soup of PBA – NFTA – ESDC – ECHDC – BERC – BURA – etc – City Hall site of Mayor Wilkeson’s home, duty free, and other considerations, there may be some irony to be mined in the kangaroo court of public comment

  • trobbflo

    True enough, the Busti Avenue home of Col. Samuel H Wilkeson was not the family mansion of Mayor Samuel Wilkeson – demolished for the monument that is now City Hall, but it is not yet 100 days since the Colonel’s home was reduced to rubble. The timing, the principals, the alphabet soup of PBA, ECHDC, ESDC, NFTA, BURA, BERC, the duty free prospect at the site of the Civil War hero’s home, and other considerations convinces me that there is irony to be mined in the kangaroo court of public commentary.

  • trobbflo

    True enough, the Busti Avenue home of Col. Samuel H Wilkeson was not the family mansion of Mayor Samuel Wilkeson – demolished for the monument that is now City Hall, but it is not yet 100 days since the Colonel’s home was reduced to rubble. The timing, the principals, the alphabet soup of PBA, ECHDC, ESDC, NFTA, BURA, BERC, the duty free prospect at the site of the Civil War hero’s home, and other considerations convinces me that there is irony to be mined in the kangaroo court of public commentary.

  • grad94

    well, then, i’m completely on board with frenchifying local names! here are some that we can implement immediately!
    olde first arrondissement
    boeuf en wecque
    nids de poule patching
    parc de roi martin
    toxique dumpe

  • Greenca

    The stadium complex is an inane idea for the waterfront. Build a behemoth of a building that’s only used a handful of times a year, together with the acres of asphalt parking needed, on prime waterfront land? Not to mention the traffic concerns. You’re concerned about traffic for a concert, but ignore the traffic a NFL game would generate. Let’s not forget that the city, county and state don’t have an extra $1 billion around for a new stadium.

  • Chris

    Agreed. If it should be anywhere it should be a bookend all the way to the south.
    Ideally you would have an at grade boulavard with a park on one side and retail/residential all the way down to the steel mill.
    Even with lights you can open up the water front similar to the westside highway in NYC.

  • DeanerPPX

    If a stadium were to come to the waterfront, the Bethlehem Steel site would be the obvious choice. That site is large enough to include parking and is already a chemical wasteland so not currently suitable for parks or residential.
    As for being used a few times per year, the easy answer is to also include some sort of convention complex. For large events, the stadium could be included (a la the Superdome) as exhibition space, and the sea of parking wouldn’t go to as much waste.
    Honestly, I can’t think of any other use the steel plant site would be viable for. Combining services such as a sports/convention/attraction complex would at least get a bigger bang for the money spent, open it to public/private partnerships if hotel and commercial options were included, and perhaps secure multiple funding sources from various participants and levels of government.

  • medea

    Nothing screams “Waterfront” like a fresh parking lot, whimsical sculptures, fake bison and/or rocks to climb on and Guns and (Beat your wife after the show) Roses…I look forward to an ocean of cigarette butts and scum from the “exciting” show….rock on Buffalo

  • No_Illusions

    The current plan is also to add a convention center and sports museum. So it would not sit empty most of the year.
    However you are right. The Outer Harbor does not need a stadium to boost development there…though it would expedite the process.
    The best place for a stadium in inland a little. There are a few sites where it could go not too far from downtown.

  • Old First Ward

    I think the object is to not isolate the stadium from civilization and just plop in some remote outpost. That is why the group that proposed the complex on the waterfront want to include a convention center with it. A year round multipurpose facility with a retractable roof that can blend in with the rest of the development.
    Yes there is an issue with parking and maybe the bulk of the parking could be located on the Bethlehem Steel site with shuttles and maybe rail links to the lots. Locating the complex on the Freezer Queen and Port Authority site makes sense as we would not be losing anything just gaining.

  • bernicebuffalove

    For the record, I am not running… but if you feel like writing me in, go for it.

  • buffalotrad116

    I wonder if the naming consideration also took into account Lt. Bayard Wilkeson, son and grandson of the above mentioned, who fought for his country at Gettysburg, took a shell to the leg and died of his injuries after amputating his own leg with a pen knife.

  • LouisTully

    Help me out someone, aren’t there plenty of concert venues not plopped in the middle of seas of highways? I don’t think it’s unprecedented to put a high-attendance attraction venue in remote access locations.

  • buffloonitick

    the Gorge amphitheater in Quincy WA, the Mountain Winery in Saratoga CA, Red Rocks amphitheater outside of Denver CO the come to mind. those venues are away from main interstates.

  • 5to81ALLDAY

    it looks like a glorified mini gold course. No?
    Not impressed

  • buffalotrad116

    The fact that the band is billed as Guns ‘N Roses is a travesty in itself. It’s Axl Rose and a bunch of replacement musicians. With that I am not impressed.

  • Tim

    Then could we demo the old convention center and Hyatt atrium and fully restore genesee st to city hall?
    Then, we can demo the Pasquale to restore genesee to the waterfront, build high rises all along, and up through Elmwood all down Chippewa, extending to the east side, restore humbolt parkway up through the 198, and get rid of the scajaqueda. ; )
    For real though, restoring genesee would be awesome.

  • whatever

    It seems more sensible to honor a person by naming something that would exist anyway with a real public use – like a park, street, or public building – rather than spend public $ keeping around forever a house his grandson lived in which now lacks any practical public use or revenue flow, and apparently had no person or group offering to move it to another location when that was possible.

  • whatever

    Yes on the term limit idea, both for mayor & council.
    If it wasn’t for him not wanting the job, I might write in bini for it.
    Tolbert’s lack of substance on issues so far isn’t impressive. Same for Rodriguez.
    Brown hasn’t been truly horrible so maybe he might be best among the 3 who are running, although that’s setting the bar pretty low.
    Or maybe it’s 4 who are running if this guy is still at it…
    http://rising.wpengine.com/2012/11/a-buffalo-renaissance-proclamation.html

  • Dak

    Stopped by today with the fam to check it out, annnnnnd we really like it. Also, the entire outer harbor is a very cool place for active people (running, biking, wind surfing, boating, fishing, kayak, canoe, swimming, beaches, sand v-ball courts, etc…). I like the feel of the outer harbor more and more, its a long chain of connected parks/sites that you can spend the entire day exploring. Can’t wait to see whats next!
    Sorry I didn’t have anything negative to say 😉

  • KimMcH

    RE: Tolbert for Mayor. I am not interested in a man who was implicated in a sexual harrassment suit ( he settled and the case is sealed) and who had a former employee fired for trying to help a female employee who was being sexually harrassed by a different employee… Sorry.

  • KimMcH

    The Splash Pad is for the City’s children to play in and cool off in the summer. It’s not meant for adults, so what’s your problem????