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NYPA deal: smart or stupid?


The NYPA relicensing deal is done.

Terms of the agreement call for the city and county to receive a package worth $279 million over 50 years, according to a release from Rep. Louis Slaughter, D-Fairport

Ultimately, it’s less than a billion, but about 3x what it used to be.

NYPA will allocate $2 million to greenway projects in Erie County and $2.5 million will go to the Erie Canal Waterfront Development Corp., another state agency recently created by Gov. George Pataki to oversee development along the city’s harbor area.
Also,$1 million will come from the Empire State Development for waterfront development.
The deal also calls for $4 million to be granted upfront – $2 million in 2006 and $2 million in 2007.
An additional NYPA settlement includes funding which will be shared between Erie and Niagara counties. That deal will fund $3 million per year for state parklands projects in those counties and another $1 million per year will go for ecological projects.

Higgins deserves the credit for pushing this issue on behalf of Buffalo and her waterfront. However, the relicensing inures to the benefit of a state authority – a sort of shadow government – which is unanswerable to the people of NYS, is unresponsive to the taxpayers, and operates independently of any real governmental oversight.
That rogue shadow government now gets a 50-year license to operate a truly unique local resource. That hydroelectric facility should be used primarily to provide low-cost energy to every single person and business in the 8 counties of WNY so as to attract more people and business to our region, and to mitigate Albany’s disproportionately onerous tax and regulatory burden.
What’s more important – growing the economy through the use of low-cost energy and attracting people and business here, or sending the money to Albany and getting a bit of a trickle back here and there?
While I appreciate Higgins’ tenacity on this issue, it’s quite possible that his energies were misdirected.

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